A McDonald’s Restaurant and Robb Elementary School – 77 Minutes. Again!

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When it took San Diego Police 77 minutes to stop the mass shooter at a McDonald’s Restaurant in San Ysidro, San Diego on July 18, 1984, we were horrified. But, how that mass shooting was handled by police was standard operating procedure (SOP) then. The perpetrator killed 22 people and injured 19 people that fateful summer day.

Since then police response tactics for mass shooters have changed dramatically. Like firefighters that go to the fire, law enforcement officers are now supposed to go to the firing.

Rather than being redundant, I’ll republish some relevant material I wrote earlier this year.

First, the article “For Mass Shootings, It’s Seconds, Stupid”—is as follows:

When I was in law enforcement, we were continually trying to shave a minute or two off our response time to emergency calls, like domestic violence situations. We figured that if we got there a minute or two sooner we might prevent the victim, then usually a wife, from receiving a few less hits or kicks or whatever. It’s different today. With mass shootings, minutes don’t matter, it’s seconds. That’s right, seconds. With the mentality of today’s perpetrators and/or the firepower they cradle in their hands lives can be wasted and injuries inflicted in seconds. Law enforcement always does its absolute best to respond as quickly as possible, but they aren’t always available and/or nearby, which is why we need good guys with guns in every venue.

Second, I’ll repeat the last two paragraphs of an article—”When Mass Shooting Prevention Fails, Mitigation Reigns”—as follows:

When I served in law enforcement the police surrounded and contained incidents like active shooters pending the arrival of negotiators and/or a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team. Today, the police must respond (and mostly do) to active shooters immediately, regardless of their lack of training (certifications and/or specializations); regardless of available back-up, present or enroute; and regardless of their firepower (say, a Glock 22 with a 15-round magazine loaded with conventional ammunition versus an AK-47 with a 100-round high capacity magazine loaded with hollow point rounds).

When they arrive on scene, they need to immediately go directly toward the gunfire. Scary, huh. Yeah, but not unlike what firefighters have been doing for decades. They’ve always gone toward the fire. Perhaps a piss-poor analogy, but you get the point. Anyway, that’s what cops must unhesitatingly do today because seconds count. Many active shooters who have been stopped by the police still had ammunition, in some cases plenty of it, and had the police not arrived the carnage wouldn’t have stopped.

I must say that when I wrote those articles I never expected that I’d be writing this one.

I must say that when I wrote those articles I never expected that I’d be writing this one.

It took police 77 minutes to stop the perpetrator of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, where 21 people were killed and 17 people were injured, including 19 fourth grade students.

Due so far to an appalling lack of law enforcement transparency it’s too soon to definitively say how, in 2022, could this happen.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has officially called it an “abject failure.”

While we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle to figure out exactly how law enforcement at the Robb Elementary School mass shooting failed so miserably, one thing is for sure, they did just that.

It’s been 37 years, 10 months, 5 days, 19 hours, and 33 minutes since the McDonald’s Restaurant mass shooting—apparently not long enough for some Texas cops to have learned much of anything, despite reportedly having been trained in modern police response tactics for mass shooters. It sounds trite, but if we don’t learn (without exception) from history we’re destined to repeat it.

If pressed for something this early on that might have been at the center of the “abject failure” in the Robb Elementary School mass shooting we’d have to say it’s an ugly beast we’ve unfortunately experienced and seen far too many times—multi-agency malfunction. From a lack of pre-incident information sharing to prevent tragedies to botched incident responses to post-incident investigation posturing, and everything in between, our widespread multi-agency system is problematic at best and has been for decades.

Stay tuned.

Note: Date and time calculations in this article may have negligible differences based on interpretations of when the mass shootings started, the seconds involved, and no time zone conversions.