Uvalde Mother Sues Police Dept., Gun Maker, and Others for “Complete Failure” of School Shooting Response

Video footage recorded inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde at 12:04 p.m. May 24. Authorities stormed the classroom at 12:50 p.m. Photo Source: (The Texas Tribune)

As Uvalde families continue to grieve the 21 lives lost on May 28th, just days before the end of the school year, one Uvalde mother is taking her frustration to the courtroom.

Sandra Torres, the mother of ten-year-old victim Eliahna Torres, filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week against the Uvalde police department, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, the gun maker of the AR-15 style assault rifle used in the massacre, and others.

The lawsuit accused a number of defendants of failing the school community, the 19 students, and the two teachers who were killed after the 18-year-old gunman barged into the school and barricaded himself inside two connected classrooms filled with students and teachers.

The lawsuit calls the police department's response a “complete failure.” The accusation is not without merit as local, state, border, and other officials took 77 minutes to finally confront the shooter inside the classroom. Reports indicate that over 400 law enforcement idly stood by while the attacker was inside the classroom with the helpless students and teachers.

The agonizingly slow response was captured on school surveillance footage and bodycam footage and has been recounted through recently released harrowing 911 calls made by students inside the classroom. At one point during the standoff, one student called the police pleading, "I'm in classroom 112. Please hurry. There are a lot of dead bodies."

The lawsuit accuses the named defendants of violating the constitutional rights of the victims because law enforcement had “barricaded them” inside the classroom with the shooter. Police officials maintained at the time that they initially believed the shooter was barricaded alone; however, after finding out students were in the classroom, the police were still slow to respond.

“For 77 minutes they did nothing. Nothing at all,” Torres shared with the Associated Press. “She’ll never know what it’s like to get married, to graduate, to go to her first prom. ... Never forget their faces.”

In addition to going after the failed response by law enforcement officers, Torres’ lawsuit takes a bold aim at gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, claiming that the company’s marketing tactics enabled the gunman’s actions.

Torres is taking a similar approach as the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims who were shot and killed by a 20-year-old gunman in 2012. That gunman took the lives of 20 students and six adults, the deadliest school shooting in American history. Similarly, the gunman at Sandy Hook had also once attended the school as a student.

In the Sandy Hook case, the parents went after gun maker Remington alleging that with its deceptive marketing tactics, Remington knowingly marketed to young men through targeted advertisements on combat-oriented video games.

The parents at Sandy Hook were successful in their lawsuit and were awarded $73 million to be paid out by Remington. The landmark case created a shift in American culture for holding gun makers responsible, as gun makers have typically been federally immune from lawsuits where crimes were committed with their products.

Torres is working alongside Everytown Law of the organization Everytown for Gun Safety.

“It wasn’t by accident that he went from never firing a gun to wielding a Daniel Defense AR-15,” shared Eric Tirschwell, executive director at Everytown Law. “We intend to prove Daniel Defense marketing was a significant factor in the choices that Ramos made.”

​​“My baby never made it out of the school,” she said. “There’s no accountability or transparency. There’s nothing being done.”

Torres’ lawsuit comes just days before a $27 billion class action lawsuit was filed by the survivors of the mass shooting.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, when she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.
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