Police could have stopped Uvalde shooting within 3 minutes, a Texas official says

A top Texas law enforcement official said that there were enough armed police officers wearing body armor to stop the late May shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas three minutes after it began.

But instead, it took about an hour and 14 minutes from when officers arrived at the school to when they breached the door and ended the standoff with the gunman.

That was according to Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who spoke to state officials during a Texas Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” McCraw said.

He added that the outside door the shooter used to enter the school was unlocked, though the lock was working properly.

McCraw called the police response to the shooting an “abject failure” and said it was “antithetical” to the lessons learned about active shooter situations since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.

Source: NPR

Gunman kills 19 children, 2 teachers in Texas school rampage

The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” authorities said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S.

Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed the gunman. Police and others responding to Tuesday’s attack also went around breaking windows at the school to enable students and teachers to escape, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”

Olivarez told CNN that all the victims were in the same fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary.

The killer “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” he said. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”

Investigators did not immediately disclose a motive but identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Olivarez said investigators were working with the FBI and looking at social media to see if there were any “red flags” before the shooting.

Source: AP News

‘Stop the show!’ Houston concertgoers describe chaos

Screaming. Suffocating. Panicked. Unconscious.

The concertgoers at a highly anticipated Houston music festival Friday night say they were shocked to witness how the event brewed into pandemonium that left at least eight people dead.

Rapper Travis Scott was the headliner for the sold-out Astroworld Festival in NRG Park, which was attended by an estimated 50,000 people.

Here, some of them describe the chaos they’re still trying to understand.

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Ariel Little of New York was in the middle of the crowd in a prime viewing spot with her husband for only a brief minute before she started to struggle.

It was in trying to escape the increasingly packed venue that the couple realized how dangerous it was becoming.

Little’s voice quivered with emotion as she described how small she felt gasping for air as she was battered by the crowd.

“My chest is in so much pain from people pushing and crushing — literally crushing — my chest and in my lungs. And all I can remember is just screaming for him. ‘I gotta get out! I gotta get out!’ And people weren’t moving,” Little said. “They thought it was a joke but it was like literally people dying.”

Her husband, Shawn, surveyed the scene quickly to find a way out.

“There was a lot of people in my section that were kind of like screaming and having panic attacks just because it felt almost as if you were under an elevator and the elevator was coming down on you and there was nothing you could do about it,” Shawn Little said. “No one in my section at the time was moving because I think everyone was just in shock of how crazy and how panicked that everyone was. There was a lot of fear in people’s eyes.”

Source: AP News

Justice Department sues Texas over ‘unconstitutional’ abortion law

The Justice Department is suing Texas over the state’s new controversial restrictions on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced  Thursday. Garland said the law is plainly improper both for its onerous restrictions on abortion access and for the provisions allowing state residents to sue anyone who aids or carries out restricted abortions. 

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” Garland said at a press conference. “This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear,” Garland said. 

“If it prevails, it may become a model for action in other areas by other states and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents. nor need one think long or hard to realize the damage that would be done to our society if states were allowed to implement laws that empower any private individual to infringe on another’s constitutionally protected rights in this way,” he added. 

The move comes a week after the Supreme Court refused to block the state law, which would effectively ban most abortions, in a 5-4 ruling over the objections of the court’s liberal wing and the Chief Justice John Roberts.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in federal district court in Texas.

Source: The Hill

Abbott signs Texas elections bill, Democrats file suit

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday signed a sweeping overhaul of his state’s election procedures after months of delay caused by Democrats who sought to block the bill they say will disenfranchise voters. Abbott made the measure his top priority in two special legislative sessions he called over the summer, the first of which ground to a halt when state House Democrats denied majority Republicans a quorum by fleeing to Washington, D.C. The legislature approved the bill last week and Abbott signed the measure in Tyler, accompanied by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), the lead Senate sponsor of the measure.

“Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. The measure bars round-the-clock polling stations and places new restrictions on drive-thru voting and voting by mail. It will give more authority to partisan poll watchers who can observe an election, and it increases the requirements for identification voters must show when they cast a ballot.

According to The Hill, the bill will also prevent elections officials from distributing vote-by-mail applications to voters who have not specifically requested them, after registrars and county clerks in large Texas counties sent out applications in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It requires the Secretary of State’s office to check voter rolls every month in an effort to identify non-citizens who have improperly registered to vote.

Republicans say the new law is meant to restore integrity in the electoral process, almost a year after former President Trump lost re-election and began spreading disinformation about the results.

Source: The Hill

Democrats point to Texas abortion ban in bid to juice midterm turnout

Democrats and abortion activists are gearing up to go on the offensive ahead of the midterms, and they plan to use Texas’s newly enacted all-but-total ban on abortions as Exhibit A in their quest to get voters to the ballot box.

The Texas legislation, known as S.B. 8, bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks and is before many women know they are pregnant. The measure, which essentially leaves enforcement in the hands of Texas residents by allowing them to sue anyone suspected of aiding an abortion, went into effect at midnight Wednesday after the Supreme Court refused to block it.

According to The Hill, the Supreme Court refused to block the law in a 5-4 ruling. The court’s majority said abortion providers failed to make a persuasive argument for the court to intervene but said that the challengers had raised “serious questions” about the law’s constitutionality.

Source: The Hill

As Texas abortion law takes effect, advocates await word from Supreme Court

The most restrictive abortion law in the nation took effect in Texas early Wednesday, effectively barring the procedure across the state, as the U.S. Supreme Court remained silent on an emergency request from women’s health groups to block the measure while legal challenges continue.

Texas becomes the first and only state in the country to outlaw abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. Twelve other states have passed similar laws that have not yet taken effect due to legal challenges.

According to WBAL, abortion providers across Texas had said the measure would “immediately and catastrophically” prevent care for “at least 85%” of Texas abortion patients. Several clinics reported full waiting rooms up until the midnight deadline.

“Our clinic staff saw patients until 11:56 last night, just 3 minutes before the 6 week abortion ban went into effect in Texas,” Whole Women’s Health, a top abortion provider in Texas, posted to Twitter.

Most of the abortions performed

Source: WBAL

Woman Shot at Nearly 50 Times, Killed as She Pulled into Her Garage

According to reports, a Texas woman was gunned down as she pulled into her garage after getting off work at a gentlemen’s club. 

Police say the 31-year-old mother was shot around 5:30 AM Tuesday and died at the scene. “The only information we have is a dark color vehicle pulled up, [someone] got out and shot approximately 50 rounds at her,” said Major Susan Cotter with HCSO. “She pulled into the garage, she was able to exit the vehicle, and she was found deceased in the garage.” 

A man named Timothy identified the victim as Valeesha Duncan who he described as his best friend.
“We have a child together, and I’m the ex, so that goes to show you if I can say these positive things and for us to still be friends, that shows you a lot about her character,” Timothy said.

Investigators are still attempting to determine whether Duncan was targeted or whether it was a random act of violence. 

Tx Greg Abbott becomes the 11th Gov. to test positive for COVID-19

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to his office, who said the Republican is in good health and experiencing no symptoms.

Abbott, who was vaccinated in December and has refused calls to reinstate mask mandates as the highly contagious delta variant surges in Texas, was isolating in the governor’s mansion in Austin and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement. He is at least the 11th governor to test positive for the virus since the pandemic began, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

“Governor Abbott is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in good health, and currently experiencing no symptoms. Everyone that the Governor has been in close contact with today has been notified,” Miner said.

In a video posted on social media, Abbott said the fact that he had been fully vaccinated “may be one reason I’m really not feeling any symptoms right now. I have no fever, no aches and pains, no other types of symptoms.”

The positive test comes a day after Abbott, who has seldom been seen wearing a mask in public recently, did not wear one while speaking indoors near Dallas to a crowded room of GOP supporters, most of whom were older and unmasked. Video posted by his campaign shows the 63-year-old governor — who is up for reelection in 2022 and has drawn two GOP challengers who have attacked the virus restrictions he put in place last year — mingling with attendees as they gathered around him taking pictures.

Source: AP News

Texas Supreme Court blocks mask mandates in Dallas, Bexar counties

Two days after a Dallas appeals court dealt Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a legal setback by upholding Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ order requiring masks in schools and businesses, the Texas Supreme Court shut the mandate down.

The entirely Republican Texas Supreme Court granted a temporary stay at the request of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday. But hearings on the matter will continue in lower courts as scheduled.

Bexar County, where the county seat is San Antonio, has a hearing Monday, and Dallas County has a hearing Aug. 24.

The opinion of the Austin appeals panel found that the governor’s powers are granted under the Texas Disaster Act to deal with emergencies.

Jenkins had argued that the act does not give Abbott the power to suspend the authority of mayors and county judges to declare and manage local disasters.

Jenkins won before a civil district court judge and the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas before losing in the state’s highest court. The Fifth Court is made up of mostly Democrats. Jenkins is also a Democrat. But those victories were short-lived.

For the Supreme Court, Jenkins’ case got letters of support from the nonprofit Texas Association of School Boards, the Dallas County Medical Society, Disability Rights Texas and a Dallas individual physician pleading that local leaders be allowed to decide their own health and safety practices.

Source: DallasNews.com