The Texas House of Representatives committee report on the Robb elementary school shooting found that the accused school shooter had shown numerous warning signs in the years, months and days before the school shooting, but he was still able to legally purchase the assault rifle used in the shooting.
The report illustrated numerous school and law enforcement failures leading up to and on the day of the shooting and sparked an outcry among the families of the 21 people killed in May.
Private individuals were the only people aware of the many warning signs he was exhibiting, as he had no criminal history prior to the shooting. The alleged shooter’s apparent motive was a “desire for notoriety and fame”, according to the report.
Those interviewed by the committee, including family, friends and acquaintances, reported numerous warning signs that experts say should have raised red flags.
“He showed almost all the warning signs,” ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary for the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security, John Cohen, said in a statement. interview. “This guy should have been on everyone’s radar.”
School officials had identified the accused shooter as “at risk” academically in third grade due to consistently poor test scores. However, he did not receive any education services, according to the report.
The shooting itself took place in the accused shooter’s former classroom. The suspect had discussed bad memories of fourth grade with an acquaintance a few weeks prior, according to the report.
The suspect’s fourth-grade teacher told the committee she was aware he needed special help and claimed he was being bullied. She met with his mother about those concerns and said she thought he finally had a good year and that the classroom was a safe space where he made friends, according to the report.
The suspect’s family, however, disputed this account saying that his classmates bullied him because of his stutter, his clothes and his short haircut. Some family members also said that some of the teachers went after the suspect and his cousin, according to the report. Notes found on the alleged shooter’s phone indicated he had been bullied as early as middle school.
About the bosses
As of 2018, the alleged shooter had poor school attendance, with more than 100 absences per year. He also had increasingly dismal failing grades and performance on standardized and end-of-course exams, according to the report.
The committee found that the local court did not regularly enforce school truancy rules and it is unclear whether school resource officers have ever visited the alleged shooter’s home.
Apart from a single 3-day suspension due to a “mutual fight” with a student, the suspect had almost no disciplinary history at school.
In 2021, when he was 17, the alleged shooter had only finished ninth grade. He was involuntarily removed from Uvalde High School in October 2021, citing poor academic performance and poor attendance, according to the report.
Over the past year, the suspect has increasingly withdrawn and isolated himself. Earlier this year, a group of former friends of the alleged shooter “jumped on him”, according to the report.
His former girlfriend described the alleged shooter as lonely and depressed and said he was constantly teased by friends who called him a “school shooter”, according to the report. He was also called a “school shooter” online because of his comments.
She said he repeatedly told her that he would not live past 18, either because he would kill himself or simply because he “wouldn’t live long”. The alleged shooter also responded to their breakup last year by harassing the girl and her friends, according to the report.
The alleged shooter’s online activity was also of concern as he began watching violent and gruesome videos and images of things like suicides, beheadings and accidents.
Those he played video games with reported that he became furious when he lost. He reportedly made exaggerated threats, particularly to female players, whom he terrorized with graphic depictions of violence and rape.
Later internet use suggests he may have wondered if he was a sociopath and sought information about his condition. His internet searches resulted in him receiving an email, which was not disclosed from where in the report, about getting psychological treatment for sociopathy.
A month after working at Whataburger in 2021, he was fired for threatening a colleague. He would have had a similar experience at Wendy’s.
His family and friends knew about his efforts to buy guns before he was old enough to do so legally. He asked at least two people to buy him guns when he was 17, but they both refused, according to the report.
None of the suspect’s online behavior was ever reported to law enforcement, and if it was reported by other users to a social media platform, it does not appear action was taken. taken to restrict his access or report him to authorities as a threat, according to the report.
Red Flag Laws
Red flag laws, or extreme protection orders, allow law enforcement or family members to ask a civil court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who poses a risk to them. himself or for others. Recent federal legislation provided funding for states to implement these laws.
Although Texas is not among the 19 states that have implemented red flag laws, experts say those laws could have prevented the shooting if they had been used in this case.
“I think that’s an illustration of why red flag laws might be needed. And that might be helpful, especially if they were widely used here,” said Jeffrey Swanson, professor of psychology and of behavioral studies affiliated with the Center for Firearms. Law at Duke University, told ABC News in an interview.
The alleged Uvalde shooter showed enough indications of risk that his weapons could have been removed under those laws, Swanson said.
Jarrod Burguan, the former San Bernardino police chief and ABC News contributor, said the mental health system being a revolving door hasn’t made it effective in forcing treatment and potentially protecting society from this. type of attacks.
While law enforcement can detain people they suspect of posing a potential risk for up to 72 hours (this varies by state), Burguan said millions of people fall through the cracks of the net.
“We need something that builds the ability of the mental health system to hold somebody down and force them into treatment, and stop allowing people to walk away, and then affect everyone else in society,” Burguan said.
Cohen said he’s heard that concern from law enforcement around the country, but says recent federal legislation can help by improving access to mental health care.
Cohen believes there is also a need to implement threat management strategies where community members, leaders and family could put a plan in place that would help those who may be at risk.
Even if there isn’t enough evidence to arrest someone who might pose a risk, there is still common ground to act preemptively with “law enforcement working with law enforcement professionals. mental health to assess risk based on an assessment of the person’s behavior,” Cohen said.
Uvalde: 365 is an ABC News continuing series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it continues in the shadow of tragedy.