Former DHS counterterrorism chief: Law enforcement response to Texas school shooting a ‘failure’

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Former Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism chief John Cohen said on Sunday that law enforcement’s response to the active shooter situation at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was a “failure.”

“I mean, John, it was a failure,” Cohen told ABC’s “This Week” moderator Jonathan Karl.

“I’ve been in law enforcement almost 40 years. I am proud of my profession. I respect the men and women who are out there each day trying to make our community safe. But at the end of the day, we had 21 people die. We had 19 children die. We had people potentially die while law enforcement was on scene.”

Cohen said more information should be available in the coming in days about whether authorities responding to the scene were trained properly, along with specifics on how they responded and communicated as the attack was ongoing.

“When you put on that badge, you make a commitment to safeguard the community and protect those who cannot protect themselves,” Cohen added. “And on that day, law enforcement failed.”

Cohen’s remarks come after 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were killed on Tuesday in Uvalde. Officials say the suspect, Salvador Ramos, 18, opened fire inside a fourth grade classroom at the school. He was in the building for more than an hour before he was killed.

Local authorities have faced intense scrutiny from the media, public and parents for their response to the shooting, with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw saying on Friday that authorities made the wrong decision to wait to confront Ramos.

Authorities also said that 19 police officers were waiting inside the hallway in the school outside the classroom but waited for the school janitor to unlock the door, more than an hour after the massacre began.

“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that,” McCraw said at a news conference.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he was “livid” about inaccurate information he was given about the police response to the school shooting.

“As everyone has learned, the information I was given has turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I am absolutely livid about that,” he said on Friday.

“My expectation is that the law enforcement leaders leading the investigations … they get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty,” he said.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Sunday that it will launch a review of law enforcement’s response to the school shooting and publish a report about its conclusions.

“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.

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