Texas was once again at the forefront of some of the biggest legal stories of the year. The following are the state’s top stories of 2022 as determined by the staff of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.
Uvalde: ‘Systemic Failures and Egregious Poor Decision Making’
“I don’t know what’s going on, but … get under the table and act like you’re asleep,” a teacher at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School told his third- and fourth-grade students as the sound of gunfire was heard from the next classroom on May 24. Moments later, an 18-year-old burst through the door, opening fire with his just-purchased AR-15 style rifle.
As horrifying as initial news reports of another school shooting were, the nightmare only deepened as a clearer picture of the events came into focus.
Within minutes of the first shot, law enforcement officers – in the end, more than 370 in all – descended on the school. But rather than rush the classroom as taught in active-shooter training, the officers hung back, lining the school hallways. Over the course of the standoff, the intermittent sound of gunfire was heard. Children made frantic 911 calls from inside the classrooms. Parents outside the school begged for police to charge the school. Finally, after one hour and 14 minutes, Border Patrol Tactical Unit officers entered the room, killing the gunman.
With 19 children and two educators killed, it was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting in history, behind only the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, where 20 students and six educators lost their lives.
How could such a botched response have happened? Some pointed the finger at the school for lax security, others placed the blame at the feet of the district’s police chief who abdicated leadership to seemingly no one. According to a Texas House committee investigation, the fault was in “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” by a long list of officials.
Many parents turned their anger on state lawmakers who had failed to pass any significant reforms in the four years since a shooter at Santa Fe High School took 10 lives, wounding 13 others. While Uvalde renewed debate about gun restrictions, other safety rules were proposed instead, including default locking of exterior doors, panic alarms, and arming teachers. The state’s role and response to the massacre became a flashpoint issue in the gubernatorial race, but ultimately Gov. Greg Abbott was reelected to a third term.