Hi Friend,
I hope you are having an amazing summer and enjoying time with your family. I have enjoyed the extra time with Fanny and our two boys. The oldest is gearing up for his first year of high school with football camps and practices. The youngest is eager to get to fifth grade to see his friends and teachers.  I was fortunate to have both of them join me in the district office some this summer to see the good things we get to do in the community and the process of researching and writing good legislation. We don’t want to shy away from hard topics and this means we sometimes spend a long time looking at the toughest battles our communities are facing. 

As I stated in an earlier Briefing, the Robb Elementary School shooting was devastating to hear about, and I know many other Texans and parents feel the same. A gunman entered a fourth-grade classroom, similar to the one my fourth-grade son sat in last year, and murdered 21 souls in cold blood. The thought of my son not coming home from school one day due to the heinous act of a very disturbed individual is a heart-wrenching thought and I continue to grieve with the families of those lost and the people of Uvalde. 

As a legislator and a person in leadership, action is required after an event like this. Finding the correct actions to take is important, though. Immediately after a tragedy like this, you come to the aid and support of those harmed and grieving. Love on those impacted and assist with bringing peace to a community that was shaken to its core. The next action should be to gain a thorough understanding of what happened so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. 

This is the reason Speaker Phelan formed an investigative committee into the Robb Elementary Shooting, and tasked them with submitting an interim report on the tragedy. This report was released to the public on July 17, in cooperation with the families of the victims. A Spanish version followed shortly after for all to read and understand. Not only do legislators and local elected officials need this report in order to understand how to move forward, but the people of Uvalde also deserve to know what circumstances led to the events that so deeply impacted their community. 

You find the full report here.
The overarching takeaway is twofold. First, the school did not have proper protocols in place to ensure their campus was secure from intruders. Second, the local and school law enforcement that showed up to the scene were not prepared for an active shooter situation. Both of these led to a devastating outcome with tremendous loss of life. 

We need to evaluate some difficult realities in this briefing, but first, I can’t overstate just how much of a positive impact educators and law enforcement have on Texas. So many men and women step up to educate our children and prepare them for the world they’ll live and work in; while others step up to protect and serve our communities and run into danger. Our state is better because of these men and women and they deserve our respect and admiration. Thank you to those who serve our community in these capacities.

Now with that being said, let’s dig a little deeper into the committee report. It starts off by stating, “Other than the attacker, the Committee did not find any ’villains’ in the course of its investigation. There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making." These are the types of problems we need to identify so we can put good processes in place to prevent future tragedies.

It’s not a surprise, at this point, to learn that Robb Elementary School was not prepared for what happened on May 24. While the school had adopted security policies that included locking exterior and classroom doors, the culture of the school did not foster compliance. The door to classroom 111, where the shooter entered, had a broken latch that was repeatedly reported to the school administration before the incident, but never repaired. 

Further contributing to the culture was the fact that around 50 lockdowns and alarms caused by “bailouts” had already occurred between February and May at Robb Elementary last year. “Bailouts” are described in the report as “—the term used in border communities for the increasingly frequent occurrence of human traffickers trying to outrun the police, usually ending with the smuggler crashing the vehicle and the passengers fleeing in all directions.” The frequency of these alarms led to a lack of vigilance when the alarm went off. Unfortunately, human smugglers running around in the area did not result in heightened concern about locking exterior and classroom doors. 

Locking doors proved to be a crucial factor in the shooting. It is unknown how long the attacker could have been stalled or how many lives could have been saved if the doors were properly secured and alarms were properly responded to. The report highlights the need to follow security policies in place and to do so consistently.
Now, moving on to law enforcement. The report states, “At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety.” Likely, over 100 of the 142 rounds fired by the attacker were shot before law enforcement entered the school.

One of the first responders to the scene was the chief of the school district police who, in the written Uvalde CISD’s active shooter plan, assumes command and control of the scene. He failed to perform this duty or transfer it to anyone else. Also among the first to arrive on the scene was the commander of the Uvalde Police Department SWAT. Despite their immediate presence at the scene, nobody took command and they failed to enter the school for an unacceptable amount of time. 

The lack of command and control by any law enforcement officer also contributed to the chaos that led to a misunderstanding of the situation at hand. It was assumed to be a "barricaded subject" scenario where they could take their time, despite radio chatter that signaled that people were in critical condition and needed immediate medical attention, due to an active shooter situation. “Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies—many of whom were better trained and better equipped than the school district police—quickly arrived on the scene. Those other responders, who also had received training on active shooter response and the interrelation of law enforcement agencies, could have helped to address the unfolding chaos.”

None of those responders, including the ranking officers, approached the Uvalde CISD chief of police to assist command or take command of the situation. The lack of training and clarity by those who responded led to a prolonged period for the shooter to roam freely in the school. Law enforcement at all levels present share in the responsibility for the chaos and missed opportunity to save lives that day. 

There is a lot more background added in the report about the school, and law enforcement's background and history that should have contributed to helping to prevent what happened that day. However, the attacker that day does not get a free pass in our considerations of this tragedy. He is the villain of this day. He ultimately took the lives of 21 young people who are deeply missed by their loved ones and should never be forgotten by their fellow Texans. 
One of the motivators of the attacker was notoriety and fame so, following in the steps of the authors of the committee report, we will not grant this fame to him. We won’t mention the name of this 18-year-old from Fargo, North Dakota. According to testimony, he was believed to be sexually assaulted at an early age and he dealt with a speech impediment. His poor school performance by third grade led him to be identified as an “at-risk” student. Unfortunately, despite an apparent request for speech therapy and the attacker's internet searches for information on dyslexia, he never received special education services. 

In the fourth grade, he complained about being bullied due to his stutter, clothing (he often wore the same clothes day after day as his family lived in relative poverty), and short haircut. Starting in 2018, he had over 100 absences annually and was failing all his classes. It was reported the local judicial system did not consistently enforce truancy rules and it is unclear whether school resource officers ever visited the attacker due to his absences. 

In 2021, at the age of 17, he had only completed the 9th grade and the school involuntarily withdrew him due to poor academic performance and lack of attendance. This began a dark path of isolation. He showed anger issues as he punched holes in the wall of his room after arguments with his mother and attempted to teach himself boxing and martial arts on a punching bag in his bedroom. He became fixated on his weight and fitness. His sister graduated and moved on and his only friend moved away. He was “jumped” by a group of former friends and teased often by those who called him “school shooter”. His former girlfriend reported that he said he wouldn’t live past 18 due to suicide or that he just “wouldn’t live long”.

His personality continued to grow darker, as seen on his social media activity, the videos he watched, and the things he shared that involved gore and violent sex. He shared gruesome videos and images of suicides and beheadings. His temper grew violent and his threats more graphic. He hoarded money from the jobs he held for short periods and the work he did with his grandfather. He told people on the internet he was “saving for something big”. He started purchasing rifle slings, red dot sight, shin guards and body armor. As he was still only 17, he asked two people to buy guns for him and they refused. Online he made clear his fascination with school shootings. He had what appeared to be self-inflicted cuts on his face as he reached the final days before the shooting. He left his mother’s house after a big fight and went to live with his grandmother who lived down the street from Robb Elementary. There he slept on the living room floor as there was no other space for him.

The attacker talked of suicide a few days before the shooting. By the time of the shooting, he had accumulated 60 30-round magazines, a holographic weapon sight, and a Hellfire Gen 2 snap-on trigger system. On his 18th birthday, May 16, he was finally able to purchase a firearm and ammo. The online retailer shipped his 1,740 rounds of 5.56mm hollow points and purchased a Daniel Defense DDM4 AR-15-syle rifle. He also purchased a S&W M&P15, AR-15-syle rifle. He went back again and purchased 375 rounds of 5.56 FMJ rounds.

It’s worth noting from the investigation that, “Prior to the shooting, the attacker had no criminal history and had never been arrested. He is not known to have espoused any ideology or political views of any kind. Private individuals alone knew the many warning signals.” The many messages exchanged through social media and texts, and the things people could tell from his mental state, did not show up in any background checks. 

Sadly, on May 24th, as the attacker and his grandmother were in a dispute due to her removing him from her phone plan, he shot his grandmother in the head and went to the school to carry out the school shooting. The rest of the report goes into great detail the timeline from the grandmother's death to the eventual end of the attacker. 

This tragic day was preceded by many disturbing events in this young person’s life that led to the development of a very traumatized and dangerous person. In the end, many lives were lost because of the lack of support this child had in his special education needs, the lack of a judiciary carrying out its duty, and a lack of mental health resources to get this child back on track. The failures of the school and district to create a security conscience culture that followed safety procedures, and the failure of law enforcement to take action, all contributed to a tragic day. 
As this report continues to be studied and the legislative committees in both the House and Senate work on solutions to further secure our schools. We will work with local law enforcement and school districts to ensure our schools are safe and secure. We will continue working to ensure our children can go to school safely and come home unharmed. 

As a Christian, commanded by God to love Him and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39), I urge all Texans to keep watch for those among us in need. The loner, the broken-spirited, the sad, and the distraught; these are the ones God has called us to minister to and serve. There is help for them and we have a duty to help connect these resources with those in need, for the safety and well-being of our community. This is a step we can all take to better love our neighbors and invest in the security of our communities. 
Let us know your thoughts
Our goal is to communicate effectively, with authenticity and simplicity, so that Texans know what and why things are happening, and how to make a difference in their community. We want to empower you with the right information to make things better for yourself, your family, and your neighbors. We will continue to work on this and we want to hear from you about how we can improve on any of the things discussed above.
Jacey Jetton
State Representative
Texas House District 26

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Each week, I will send you the "Weekly Briefing", where you will get the latest news on House District 26. These weekly briefings will ensure you know more than anybody else about what is happening in our district. When you are equipped and empowered, problems get solved and life gets better for everyone. Let's continue to make Texas a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
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