Tag Archive for: Uvalde school shooting

Survivors and family members of victims of the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX, are suing state and local authorities for $27 billion.



Uvalde families sue state, local officials for $27 billion. Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago docs case. Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks.





Uvalde shooting survivors, families file $27 billion suit against state, local officials

A group of parents of victims and school staff members who were present during the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, have filed a $27 billion lawsuit against state and local agencies and officials. The defendants named in the suit include the city, the municipal police department, the school district, the school district’s police department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and individuals currently or formerly affiliated with those bodies and agencies.

The suit is seeking damages from all these agencies to be paid to parents who lost children or whose children were wounded or are experiencing PTSD from the massacre, as well as to the families of the two teachers killed and other school staff endangered that day.

Failures and cover-ups

Since the shooting in May this year, further details have continually emerged to illuminate the magnitude of the failures that likely caused  greater loss of life. That’s despite attempts by agencies at every level to block the flow of information about what happened that day. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned.

We know now that at least 376 law enforcement officers responded to the scene that day. That includes 91 state troopers, 25 officers from Uvalde city police, 5 from Uvalde school district police and 16 local sheriff’s deputies. The rest were police and sheriff’s deputies from other surrounding cities and counties. Some came from as far away as San Antonio, 80 miles away. Despite all that muscle and firepower, it took 77 minutes before the shooter was confronted. And it wasn’t even one of these hundreds of state, city, or county officers that confronted and killed the shooter. Instead it was a US Border Patrol tactical team.

In a separate suit, the city of Uvalde is suing District Attorney Christina Mitchell for withholding investigative materials related to the shooting. The city wants the judge to compel Mitchell’s office to hand over relevant records from all law enforcement agencies.


Video, audio reveal desperate 911 calls from inside the classroom and confusion among law enforcement (opens in new tab).

Medical examiner investigating whether more victims could have been saved if they’d received help sooner (opens in new tab).


Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago documents case 

Since the Aug. 8 FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home yielded over 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents, Trump’s legal strategy has been to delay, delay, delay. When District Judge Aileen Cannon (whom Trump appointed) granted his request for a special master in the case, it looked like Trump might succeed in stalling the DOJ investigation for months or years.

The special master was initially tasked with reviewing both the 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents. During this review, the DOJ would not be able to use either set of documents in their investigation into Trump’s theft of the documents or his efforts to obstruct the government’s efforts to reclaim them. The 11th Circuit then eliminated the classified documents from the review, leaving only the 11,000 classified documents. Still, this would have required special master Raymond Dearie to spend months reviewing the documents before the DOJ could file charges.

Now, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta has undone Cannon’s ruling appointing a special master altogether. This means there no further impediment to the DOJ’s investigation. Trump may appeal this decision to the Supreme Court as well. However, the Supreme Court has previously upheld other decisions by the 11th Circuit siding with the DOJ in this case.

Last month, after Trump announced he was officially running for President again in 2024, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned Jack Smith as a special counsel to oversee the DOJ’s criminal cases that involve Trump. 

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In other news…

Biden signs bill blocking railroad strike; bill giving workers 7 paid sick days failed in Senate. (Opens in new tab).

Supreme Court to hear Biden administration’s bid to resume student loan relief program in February. Applications, approvals remain on hold. (Opens in new tab).



Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks

While Russian forces are largely in retreat across Ukraine, there has been little sign that either the Ukraine or the Kremlin is open to negotiating peace terms. Demands from both sides remain little changed since March. Ukraine still insists that it must retake Crimea. After 8 years in Russian hands and with a population that has a greater allegiance to Russia, this hope by Ukraine still feels more like a pipe dream. If Ukraine is unwilling to negotiate on this point, there may be no end in sight.

The Russian side is proving to be equally inflexible regarding its demands for a negotiated peace. President Biden recently made remarks indicating he would welcome a negotiation with Russia to end hostilities if they showed any interesting. The Kremlin responded today that they were open to negotiations but only if the West unconditionally gave into certain demands beforehand.

In addition to their previous demands that NATO withdraw from Eastern Europe and cede control of Crimea, Russia is now demanding that the West recognize their annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Russia conducted referendum votes in each of the territories, which the West largely dismissed as a sham. It’s unlikely either Ukraine or the West would ever agree to this condition, especially since Russia’s military is currently in retreat from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Donetsk and Luhansk are largely Russian aligned and have been for years.

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Jan. 6: Secret Service reportedly deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after subpoena. Report finds “systemic failures” in police response to Uvalde shooting. Tensions remain after Biden meeting with Saudi Prince.



Jan. 6: Secret Service reportedly deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after subpoena

In a letter to the Congressional homeland security committees, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security claims that members of the Secret Service deleted their texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after the Jan. 6 select committee had subpoenaed them. The Secret Service denies that their members deleted these texts to evade the subpoena. Instead, they maintain that some texts were deleted long ago and that others were lost in a “device-replacement program”.

Whatever the case, this oversight failure is only the latest in a string of worrisome revelations about the Secret Service and its parent agency DHS. 

Back in March reports surfaced that, as early as Dec. 21, 2020, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) had been monitoring threats of violence to occur on Jan. 6. These included specific threats to kill protesters and government officials, as well as tactical maps of D.C. and the Capitol grounds. I&A made no attempt to share its concerns with law enforcement or other relevant officials until Jan. 5. That report was not even approved and released until two days after the riot.

However, I&A officials were trading communications amongst themselves, joking about the prospect of Democratic politicians being hanged.

DHS targeted journalists, protected far-right militants

Intelligence and Analysis found itself in the spotlight previously in 2020. First, in the summer of 2020, leaked documents revealed that  I&A officials had been compiling files on journalists who were covering the George Floyd protests. Later, an I&A whistleblower came forward claiming that the acting heads of DHS had pressured analysts to downplay intelligence concerning threats of violence from far-right groups and to instead focus on bolstering Trump’s claims of dangerous left-wing organizations. At the time, Trump loyalists Chad Wolff and Ken Cuccinelli were the acting Secretary and Deputy Secretary of DHS, respectively. Cuccinelli also famously promised to ban sodomy during his unsuccessful campaign to become governor of Virginia.

Jan. 6 involvement

The key to understanding the role members of the Secret Service played in the planning of the attempted coup on Jan. 6 lies with Tony Ornato. Ornato was himself a member of the Secret Service and head of Trump’s security detail until Dec. 2019. At that point, Trump appointed him Deputy Chief of Staff, an unprecedented step up for a Secret Service agent. In his new position, Ornato oversaw security matters at the White House.

During the riot on the 6th, Vice President Pence and others were removed to secure locations near or within the Capitol grounds. Ornato reportedly wanted to remove Pence from the Capitol altogether. Pence, however, insisted on staying put. Ornato allegedly told Pence’s national security adviser Keith Kellogg that he wanted to remove Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Kellogg reportedly said to Ornato, “You can’t do that, Tony. Leave him where he’s at. He’s got a job to do. I know you guys too well. You’ll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don’t do it”.

Had Ornato gotten his way and removed Pence to Maryland, or even further afield, Trump’s goal of blocking the certification of the 2020 election results would have been accomplished. Kellogg’s words to Ornato seem to indicate that Kellogg’s suspicions that Ornato and perhaps other members of the White House security detail had just such an outcome in mind.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service has denied that Ornato had any involvement in Pence’s movements on the 6th. Ornato has denied having several crucial conversations reported by multiple high-ranking members of the Trump White House, with some outright calling Ornato a liar. Ornato remains a high-ranking member of the Secret Service, currently serving as assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Training.

Thursday’s hearing

The 8th and possibly final public hearing of the Jan. 6 committee is set to take place this Thursday, July 21, during prime time, though these schedules are always subject to change. Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told ABC that following the reporting about the deletions from the DHS Inspector General, the Secret Service reached out to the committee denying the allegations and saying that they will comply with the subpoena. Lofgren says the committee expects to have the relevant texts by Tuesday, July 19. It’s not clear what texts the Secret Service has or how they were preserved or recovered. Lofgren says the texts are necessary to get “the full picture” of what happened on Jan. 6. 

This week’s hearing will focus on Trump’s actions and other goings on in the White House on the day of the 6th.

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Report finds “systemic failures” in police response to Uvalde shooting

A committee of state legislators in Texas has released the report of their investigation into the Uvalde school shooting. The report found “systemic failures” in the police response to the shooting. In particular, the report blames a lack of leadership and a “lackadaisical approach” to the shooting for allowing a gunman to rampage inside two classrooms for 77 minutes. Ultimately, the 18-year-old shooter killed 19 children and two teachers as about two dozen police officers stood in the hallway. 

The report found that nearly 400 police officers responded to the shooting, many from surrounding areas. Videos circulated after the shooting of the hundreds of police officers with military grade weapons and heavy protective gear standing outside the school. Rather than attempting to enter the school to stop the shooter, these officers stood outside preventing unarmed parents and community members from entering the school. In at least one instance, police pepper sprayed a distraught onlooker and tackled him to the sidewalk.

Despite pointing to a lack of leadership, the report did not single out any particular official as being responsible for the failures that day. Following a public outcry from citizens, the Chief of the Uvalde School District police Pete Arredondo finally resigned weeks after the incident. Arredondo has claimed that he didn’t know he was in charge of the scene when he turned up.

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Tensions remain after Biden meeting with Saudi Crown Prince

Over the weekend, President Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia in his first official visit since taking office. Previously, Biden had pledged to make Saudi Arabia, and in particular its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) a “pariah” over an abysmal human rights record. But following chaos in the oil markets due to the war in Ukraine, Biden relented his former rejection of talks with MBS in hopes that Saudi Arabia might increase its oil production.

One of the key points of tension between the two leaders is the finding by US intelligence that MBS approved the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khasshoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Accounts differ over whether Biden addressed Khasshoggi’s murder during his meeting with MBS. A Saudi minister who was present at the meeting said he did not hear Biden say that he blamed MBS for the assassination. Biden flatly denied the Saudi minister’s version of events.

Another account alleges that during the meeting, MBS taunted Biden for caring more about Khasshoggi’s death than the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Witnesses to Akleh’s death claim that she was targeted by Israeli forces. Akleh’s family has asked the US to investigate her death. US officials have so far rejected this plea, despite concluding publicly that Akleh most likely died at the hands of the Israeli military.

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Survivors and family members of victims of the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX, are suing state and local authorities for $27 billion.



Uvalde police try to block release of “highly embarrassing” records of shooting. Today’s Jan 6. hearing: Trump’s pressure campaign on states. Ethiopia: As many as 320 dead in ethnic massacre.



Uvalde police try to block release of “highly embarrassing” records of shooting

Each week that has passed since the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, TX, has brought new and ever more damning information to light about the police response to the shooting. Now the City of Uvalde and its two (city and school) police departments have engaged a private law firm to argue it should not have to release police documentation pertaining to the shooting to the public and media.

Media and members of the public have filed at least 148 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests since the shooting. The requested records include, but are not limited to, body camera footage, photos, 911 calls, emails, text messages, and criminal records. A letter from the city’s law firm is arguing that the city and police departments should not have to release these records because they are “highly embarrassing”, involve “emotional/mental distress”, and are “not of legitimate concern to the public”. 

Outraged citizens of Uvalde have demanded the resignation of Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo. Texas state legislators are conducting a probe of the police response on the day of the shooting. Arredondo’s cooperation with that probe has been minimal according to multiple sources. The Department of Justice has also said they will be investigating the police response.  

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What we know already

Considering all the revelations about the shameful police response to date, it’s difficult to imagine what those records contain that could be more damaging to the credibility and reputation of the Uvalde police force than what we already know: 

Police arrived with rifles, ballistic armor 19 minutes after gunman, did nothing for over an hour.

Uvalde school police chief says he didn’t know he was in charge at scene, left his radios behind “intentionally”.

Police drove by gunman twice before he entered the school, did not engage him.

Police did not even try to open classroom door that may have been unlocked. They also had a tool that would have broken open the locked door, which they did not use.


Today’s Jan 6. hearing: Trump’s pressure campaign on states to overturn election

The Congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will air its fourth televised hearing today. The focus of today’s broadcast will be Trump’s attempts to pressure officials in individual states into invalidating their own electoral results. One key witness the committee will hear from today is Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger.

On Jan. 2, Trump and several members of his staff called Raffensperger. That phone call was recorded. At one point, Trump said to Raffensperger, “What I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than [the 11,779 vote margin of defeat] we have, because we won the state”. During the call, Trump also made a thinly-veiled threat to Raffensperger, implying that Raffensperger might have committed a criminal offense and could face prosecution if he didn’t comply with Trump’s demand. The District Attorney for Fulton County (where Atlanta is located) Fani Willis has opened a criminal investigation regarding this call. Legal experts say Trump’s attempts to extort Raffensperger may have violated both state and federal laws.

Today’s hearings will also examine the Trump campaign’s efforts to have his supporters submit fake papers claiming to be official electors for their respective states. These fake electors were key in Trump’s strategy to pressure Mike Pence to refuse to certify the vote on Jan. 6.

The hearing will air at 1 p.m. ET/ 12 p.m. CT.

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Ethiopia: As many as 320 dead in ethnic massacre

Saturday saw one of the bloodiest incidents in Ethiopia’s two year long civil war whic. Ethiopia is divided up into regions which are dominated by one of its many ethnic groups. Saturday’s attack took place in six small villages in Gimbi, a region dominated by the Oromo ethnic group. The gunmen targeted ethnic Amharas, killing between 260 and 320 civilians. Amharas are one of the country’s politically dominant ethnic groups, but are a minority in the Oromo region. In recent years, many Amharas have fled fighting further north in Amharic majority regions. 

There are disputes as to who was responsible for the attack. Some witnesses have blamed the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). However, the OLA have denied involvement. Other witnesses believe that these were government troops dressed as OLA militants. Ethiopia’s central government has been fighting mostly with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), based in the Tigray ethnic majority region in the north of the country. The Oromos have formed an alliance with the TPLF with the shared goal of resisting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s push to concentrate greater power in the central government. Abiy is himself an Oromo, but he has largely allied himself with the politically powerful Amharas.

Until a few years ago, Ethiopia was a haven of peace in the region, despite sharing a border with Eritrea and Somalia, which have been hotbeds of militant, political and ethnic strife for decades. Now, over 5 million Ethiopians of various ethnic groups have been displaced by war and famine. Some have fled to other regions of Ethiopia, while others have fled to neighboring Sudan.

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