Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco does not appear to have completed an active-duty shooter training course, according to documents obtained by CNN on Monday from the Texas Law Enforcement Commission, Texas’ peace officer watchdog.
information follows Controversial Uvalde County Commission meetingduring which Richard Carter, an attorney with expertise in police operations, presented the results of an independent review — which the county hired him to conduct — of sheriff’s office policy at the time of the Robb Elementary School massacre.
According to Carter, the sheriff’s office had no active shooter policy on May 24, when a teenage gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle stormed the school and killed 19 students and two teachers.
County or state regulations do not require active shooter training for non-intramural law enforcement personnel. An aggressive shooter response policy is not required by Texas law or law enforcement agencies, the report said.
County commissioners held more than 90 minutes of closed-door meetings to review the report and meet with victims’ families. Community members called for Nolasco’s removal at the meeting after CNN reported last week that Nolasco had failed to respond at the school and that he had failed to share key information about the shooter.
Nolasco was one of the top law enforcement officials at the scene of the massacre.
After the meeting, Carter also came forward to say that Nolasco had not received active shooter training.
“He didn’t take the courses his officers — all but three of his officers — took. He plans to do so in the near future,” Carter said. “My understanding is that he wants to make sure that all of his people who might go out are trained,” before he gets his own training.
In an email to CNN containing Nolasco’s records, Law Enforcement Council spokeswoman Gretchen Grigsby said “as part of a one-time certification, school law enforcement officers are only required to receive active shooter training” , but she expects the topic to be a topic of discussion during the next legislative session.
CNN reached out to Nolasco about the report but has not yet heard back.
CNN also reached out to the Texas Law Enforcement Commission for clarification on the content of Nolasco’s training history but has yet to hear back.
Carter’s review comes after months of CNN reporting on the law enforcement response to the shooting, including that Nolasco had important information about the shooter but did not disclose it at the time of the incident. This is just the latest that senior law enforcement officials failed to take orders or follow protocol to stop an active shooter and quickly provide treatment to the victim.
He said Monday that Carter’s investigation, which took place for about two months, was handled strictly according to sheriff’s office policy.
The office has since adopted an aggressive shooter policy, Carter said in the public portion of Monday’s meeting.
But in the case of the shooting — the worst incident in a U.S. K-12 school in nearly a decade — its manual only defines “active shooters,” Carter said. He added that while there was “some content about serious incidents and how officers would respond,” it didn’t amount to an active shooter policy.
However, a community member said in the public comments portion of Monday’s meeting that whether the sheriff’s office had an aggressive shooter policy doesn’t excuse what happened the day of the shooting.
“Our officials in Uvalde County, the city, the schools and the county, don’t live under a rock,” Diana Orviedo-Calao said. “Active shooter incidents are a regular occurrence in our country … so to take a step back and create the impression that because there is no policy there is no accountability is unacceptable, inexcusable and shameful.”
Carter did not examine the actions of agency personnel at the scene of the shooting, which he said has come under high scrutiny alongside the broader law enforcement response.
The grandmother of shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza said she was “completely shocked” that the sheriff’s office did not have an aggressive shooter policy.
“I can’t believe that with all the mass shootings in Texas alone, there’s no policy in place. It’s a complete shock,” Berlinda Irene Arreola said on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
Arreola said it was difficult to meet Mariano Pargas, the acting Uvalde police chief on the day of the shooting, at the meeting.
“It’s been very difficult and very sad,” she said of Pajas, who has resigned but remains a county executive.
Arreola said she believed he had enough time to contain the incident, but “instead he ran in the other direction”.
“So, meeting him for the first time was very, very hurtful,” she said.
Without Amerie, Arreola said, the upcoming holidays will be a difficult time for her family.
“My son and daughter-in-law won’t be able to enjoy the holiday together. So this year will be different, definitely different, very sad. Very sad,” she said.
In the months since the shooting, criticism of law enforcement’s response has centered on its failure to follow a key tenet of post-Columbine policy, which is to bring down an active shooter immediately. Instead, based on an earlier erroneous assessment, the shooter was cordoned off rather than an active shooter, his victims surrounded two adjacent classrooms, and police waited 77 minutes before confronting him.
Much of the initial criticism focused on Uvaldi School Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who has said he never considered himself in charge on the day of the shooting. He was eventually fired in August.
In the months since the shooting, however, it has become clear that the failure that day went far beyond the small school police force. According to a preliminary report by the Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee, 376 officials from local, state and federal agencies were at the scene of the massacre.
Pargas, who remains the elected county commissioner, resigned from the police department after CNN reported he knew children needed rescue and had no organization to help.
Separately, a Texas Ranger and a state trooper captain are being reviewed for their actions or inactions on the day of the shooting, and a state trooper sergeant was fired. Another officer who quit the state police and worked in the Uvalde School District was also fired after CNN reported that she was under investigation for her actions in the shooting.