After a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, outside Houston, left 10 people dead in 2018, state leaders pressed new plans aimed at enhancing school security. The plans emphasized detecting mental health troubles, expanding monitoring of social media for threats, providing training on shootings and increasing the presence of law enforcement officers at schools. Across the state, $100 million was budgeted for security upgrades such as metal detectors, security systems, two-way radios and bullet-resistant glass.
Uvalde, a small community not far from the U.S.-Mexico border, was among the beneficiaries, getting a grant for $69,141.
At about the same time, the school district was building up its own security. It hired two new police officers last year, expanding to a six-person force that serves about 4,000 students across several schools. The school system’s spending on security and monitoring services more than doubled in the past four years, budget records show.
The district’s security plan included two-way radios, threat-assessment teams at each school, and a policy of locking each classroom door. At Robb Elementary, where the rampage took place on Tuesday, officials described fencing enclosing the campus that was “designed to limit and/or restrict access to individuals without a need to be on the campus,” district records said.
The school district’s security training exercises in August 2020 included its own police officers, the Uvalde city police, the county sheriff’s office and other local agencies.
“It was very successful,” Pete Arredondo, chief of the school district’s police force, wrote in a summary for district officials.
Officials from the school district did not respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday.
Details of the massacre inside Robb Elementary School were still emerging, but officials have provided a timeline of events in which they said that a school district police officer headed to the school after 911 calls came in around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. After the officer arrived, the gunman — who had scaled a fence to enter the parking lot — fired at the school and then entered it, according to the timeline. At some point, at least two members of the Uvalde Police Department entered the school, officials said, but they were shot and retreated.
About 90 minutes after the initial 911 calls, officials said, agents of the U.S. Border Patrol entered the building and killed the gunman.
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