City of Uvalde to Pay $2 Million to Families of Victims of School Shooting

The families of the victims reached a $2 million settlement with Uvalde over the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting

Uvalde School Shooting Families

Gloria and Javier Cazares, hold a photo of their daughter Jackie, who was one of 19 children killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during a news conference at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez says he is filing legislation in the wake of Texas' rising gun violence.  Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay | Courtesy

It’s been almost exactly two years since the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas and the families of the victims have just now received monetary compensation for how the city handled it. On May 24, 2022, 19 4th grade students and their two teachers at the mostly Latinx-school were killed by an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15 who was later shot dead by officers who waited more than an hour to confront him. This lack of immediate action has been criticized in the wake of the tragedy and many of the families have since filed lawsuits against dozens of Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Uvalde’s school district. In this settlement announced in late May, the city of Uvalde will pay a total of $2 million to the families of 17 children killed in the shooting and two children who survived, according to a statement from family attorneys Josh Koskoff and Erin Rogiers. The money will come from the city’s insurance coverage and, according to the statement, any further action would’ve bankrupt the city so the families chose to settle.

“We all know who took our children’s lives, but there was an obvious systemic failure out there on May 24,” Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter Jackie was killed in the shooting, said at a news conference. “The whole world saw that. No amount of money is worth the lives of our children. Justice and accountability has always been my main concern. We’ve been let down so many times. The time has come to do the right thing.”

A total of 376 law enforcement officers from across the region rushed to the school to respond, but none breached the door to the classroom for 77 minutes, CNN reported. This contradicted protocols enacted after the Columbine shooting in 1999 that requires immediate action. The city has now also pledged to institute several policy changes to the police department, including enhanced training and a new standard for police officers in coordination with the Justice Department. The city will also establish May 24 as an annual Day of Remembrance with a committee to coordinate the designing of a permanent memorial along with mental health services for the families, survivors and community, the attorneys said.

“Today, we are thankful to join the victims’ families in arriving at an agreement that will allow us to remember the Robb Elementary tragedy while moving forward together as a community to bring healing and restoration to all those affected,” the city said in a statement. “We will forever be grateful to the victims’ families for working with us over the past year to cultivate an environment of community-wide healing that honors the lives and memories of those we tragically lost. May 24th is our community’s greatest tragedy.”

The families are also suing 92 individual Texas DPS officers, the school district and several employees for their alleged failures in response to the shooting. About 72 percent of the state and local officials who arrived at Robb Elementary before the gunman was killed and received some form of active shooter training throughout their law enforcement careers, the Texas Tribune reported. But of those who received training, most had taken it only once. After the shooting, Texas mandated that officers receive 16 hours of active shooter training every two years. The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of the massacre concluded that the delay likely caused some deaths and that failures in leadership and training contributed to law enforcement’s ineffective response.

“On paper, it should have been no contest. So what happened?” Koskoff said. “Maybe it just turns out that if a kid has a military weapon, the military weapon — the AR-15 — and you get access to it easily, maybe it’s not that simple to stop a kid like that. Of course, they didn’t give themselves a chance, these 376 officers.”

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