20/20 hindsight, Crimson Elizondo, culture changes, Hal Harrell, J. Christian Adams, Pete Arredondo, Robb Elementary School, second amendment, social-media, Texas DPS, Uvalde attack, Uvalde School District
My last contribution to the SMM Uvalde archive was a summary of the Texas Legislature’s interim report, more specifically on what was then known—July, 2022—about the killer, who would want me to mention his name. Since that article, number 14 of the series, I’ve been waiting for what I hope will be a final and comprehensive report. I’m still waiting. In the meantime, however, there are a few issues and developments worth considering, beginning with this from J. Christian Adams at PJ Media:
The millennial generation might be surprised to learn that theirs is the first without guns in school. Just 30 years ago, high school kids rode the bus with rifles and shot their guns at high school rifle ranges.
After another school shooting, it’s time to ask: what changed?
Cross guns off the list of things that changed in thirty years. In 1985, semi-automatic rifles existed, and a semi-automatic rifle was used in Florida. Guns didn’t suddenly decide to visit mayhem on schools. Guns can’t decide.
We can also cross the Second Amendment off the list. It existed for over 200 years before this wickedness unfolded. Nothing changed in the Constitution.
That leaves us with some uncomfortable possibilities remaining. What has changed from thirty years ago when kids could take firearms into school responsibly and today might involve some difficult truths.
I am of a generation where perusing a school parking lot and not finding innumerable rifles and shotguns visible in pickup racks—and far more in trunks—would be unusual. Take the link and read the rest. Adams is right: much has changed, and it has nothing to do with guns.
As I noted in Article 14, hindsight is 20/20. Townhall.com takes up the attempt to prove what everyone should have known and done:
He could be cryptic, demeaning and scary, sending angry messages and photos of guns. If they didn’t respond how he wanted, he sometimes threatened to rape or kidnap them — then laughed it off as some big joke.
But the girls and young women who talked with [the killer] online in the months before he killed 19 children in an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., rarely reported him. His threats seemed too vague, several said in interviews with The Washington Post. One teen who reported Ramos on the social app Yubo said nothing happened as a result.
The article provides no dates for context.
Some also suspected this was just how teen boys talked on the Internet these days — a blend of rage and misogyny so predictable they could barely tell each one apart. One girl, discussing moments when he had been creepy and threatening, said that was just ‘how online is.’
And she’s right: social media is a cesspool.
In the aftermath of the deadliest school shooting in a decade, many have asked what more could have been done — how an 18-year-old who spewed so much hate to so many on the Web could do so without provoking punishment or raising alarm.
As long as he wasn’t obviously a Christian or saying anything that would get him canceled, he was golden. That seems to be the only kind of punishment dished out online these days.
But these threats hadn’t been discovered by parents, friends or teachers. They’d been seen by strangers, many of whom had never met him and had found him only through the social messaging and video apps that form the bedrock of modern teen life.
The girls who spoke with The Post lived around the world but met [the killer] on Yubo, an app that mixes live-streaming and social networking and has become known as a ‘Tinder for teens.’ The Yubo app has been downloaded more than 18 million times in the U.S., including more than 200,000 times last month, according to estimates from the analytics firm Sensor Tower.
On Yubo, people can gather in big real-time chatrooms, known as panels, to talk, type messages and share videos — the digital equivalent of a real-world hangout. Ramos, they said, struck up side conversations with them and followed them onto other platforms, including Instagram, where he could send direct messages whenever he wanted.
But over time they saw a darker side, as he posted images of dead cats, texted them strange messages and joked about sexual assault, they said. In a video from a live Yubo chatroom that listeners had recorded and was reviewed by The Post,[‘the killer] could be heard saying, ‘Everyone in this world deserves to get raped’”
A 16-year-old boy in Austin who said he saw Ramos frequently in Yubo panels, told The Post that Ramos frequently made aggressive, sexual comments to young women on the app and sent him a death threat during one panel in January.
As I noted in Update 14, what’s virtually certain is these were kids used to bizarre, even threatening messages online, and had no reason to think the killer’s were unusual or actually dangerous. As far as we know at the moment, he only communicated his actual, imminent intentions to a German teenager he had never met. She too appeared to think the message just another odd kid running his mouth. Even if she did take him seriously, there is no indication she knew where he was or who to call, or if she did, that it would have made the slightest difference.
Hindsight is 20/20.
The Uvalde School District’s hapless police Chief, Pete Arredondo, was finally fired:
The atmosphere in the high school auditorium, the site of the meeting, was volatile as parents of the dead children expressed their rage at Arredondo. Afterwards, the board met in a closed session off the stage.
As a Washington Post reporter on the scene tweeted:
‘Uvalde families have commandeered this school board meeting and turned this into a listening session. Meanwhile board members meet in closed session about Arredondo’s firing. Quite the scene as relatives tell stories, say their piece, there’s an empty stage behind them.’
However, the closed session didn’t go over well with many attendees. For instance, an uncle of one of the victims jumped onstage and caught the surprised school board off guard before they adjourned to deliberate. He handed them a letter, demanding that they preside in public. ‘Our babies are dead!’ he told them. The board responded that under the law, such proceedings had to be in private.
It appears Arredondo needed to be fired. Every indication, including his own admissions, clearly indicates he was in far over his head, and under the stress of the moment, fell apart. Now, the same school district has suspended the remainder of its six-person police force:
Uvalde school officials on Friday [10-07-22] suspended all of the district police department’s activities following the firing of a recently hired district officer who was revealed to have been among the first state troopers to respond to the deadly school shooting in May.
More about that officer shortly.
Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller were placed on leave, and other officers employed with the department will fill other roles in the district, according to a Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District press release issued Friday. Mueller decided to retire, the release said. The release did not specify why Hernandez and Mueller were placed on leave. A district spokesperson did not immediately return phone and email messages.
Hours after the announcement, Uvalde school district Superintendent Hal Harrell told staff in a memo that he planned to retire. In his three decades at the district, which he also graduated from, Harrell was a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent before he was hired for his current position in November 2018. The school district trustees will consider Harrell’s retirement options and a transition plan during a 6 p.m. meeting on Monday, according to the school board’s agenda.
We can be reasonably sure there is a great deal of scapegoating going on.
This will be our first discussion and there are no defined timelines set at this point,’ Harrell’s memo says. ‘UCISD has the most resilient and dedicated staff and I know you will continue to support and love our kids until and after my retirement date.’
The district’s decision to suspend its police department arrived 10 days after protesters set up at the Uvalde CISD administrative building to demand the removal of officers from campus grounds until investigations into the police department’s response to the shooting are complete.
The district said decisions regarding the future of the department had been pending the results of two investigations, but it suspended the department’s activities Friday, citing ‘recent developments that have uncovered additional concerns with department operations.’
The article gives no indication what those “developments” might be.
Earlier this week, the school district fired a recently hired district police officer after it became public that she was one of the first state troopers to arrive at Robb Elementary on May 24, when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. The delayed police response has drawn wide scrutiny and remains under investigation.
School officials fired Crimson Elizondo after CNN reported she was among at least five current and former Department of Public Safety officers the agency is investigating for their response to the shooting.
It’s unclear when Elizondo was hired by Uvalde. We don’t know if it was after the attack, but that seems to have been the case. This article may provide a clue why Elizondo was fired:
In on-body camera footage on the day of the shooting, Elizondo responded to another officer who asked her if she had any children at the school: ‘If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that.’
District spokesperson Anne Marie Espinoza said in a statement Thursday that, ‘the audio is not consistent with the district’s expectations’ and Elizondo ‘has been terminated from her position.’
‘We are deeply distressed by the information that was disclosed yesterday evening concerning one of our recently hired employees, Crimson Elizondo,’ Espinoza said. ‘We sincerely apologize to the victim’s families and the greater Uvalde community for the pain that this revelation has caused.’
Final Thoughts: I’m not going to obsess over the firing of Elizondo. It is odd she would leave the DPS—that’s the state highway patrol—for a job at a school district. One would think that a step down in pay, retirement and prestige. It would seem she was fired because she did no more than express the frustration thousands of police officers across the nation have expressed and continue to express at the horrific failure of law enforcement at Uvalde, but I may be reading more into this than is warranted. One would think most Texans and other Normal Americans would agree with her, but when passions run high, logic and truth are often the first casualties. As always, I’m working with media sources, so my information is surely limited and biased in ways hard to determine.
We do know DPS continues to provide school security for the district, so the loss of the school police department appears not to be a deficit. That may be true even if DPS wasn’t there. Still, we know so little, and in a case like this, it’s easy to attack the police.
As always, I’ll keep an eye on the story and continue to report and analyze as necessary.
Iam sorry about that event happened it so hurt action
Mike McDaniel said:
Thanks, I think.
I think time will tell the pubic more about how these incredible and horrendous decisions were made. In the meantime, many of these involved officers will see the oncoming years as very tough ones while living in a small town like Uvalde. In Uvalde, virtually every family knows another family who suffered an unspeakable loss because the heroic police rescue attack that never was.
Mike McDaniel said:
Quite so. How would one explain, how could one possibly justify, doing nothing to such people?