AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Earlier this week, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) of San Marcos released its initial report on the May 24 mass shooting, which details the events leading up to when the 18-year-old gunman was killed.

The Texas Department of Public Safety previously provided a timeline of the events at Robb Elementary. ALERRT’s report also outlines a detailed timeline of events, before giving its assessment of the physical site of the school building and law enforcement’s tactical response.

According to an officer’s statement in the report, an officer saw the gunman outside of the school. The armed officer asked his supervisor for permission to shoot the suspect. However, the supervisor either did not hear or responded too late. When the officer turned back to the shooter, he had already entered a school hallway.

ALERRT argues the officer would have been “justified in using deadly force to stop the attacker” by the Texas Penal Code, but state standards do not require officers to fire at more than 100 yards away. This officer was around 148 yards away, according to the report.

The Uvalde mayor said the report “does not give a complete and accurate account of what happened.”

In a statement, Mayor Don McLaughlin refuted the report’s finding, saying no officer saw the shooter before he entered the building.

“No Uvalde police department officer saw the shooter on May 24 prior to him entering the school. No Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman. A Uvalde Police Department officer saw someone outside, but was unsure of who he saw and observed children in the area as well. Ultimately, it was a coach with children on the playground, not the shooter,” McLaughlin said in part, in his statement.

McLaughlin also claimed Texas Department of Public Safety troopers were at the door of the school about three minutes after the gunman entered the building, and that there were “dozens” of troopers on-site by the time the classroom where the gunman was located was breached. The ALERRT report stated a DPS special agent arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the gunman entered the building.

KXAN has reached out to ALERRT for comment on McLaughlin’s statement. We will update this story when a response is received.

The mayor called the ALERRT report a “premature release of piecemeal information” on the shooting and said this is “a disservice” to families impacted by the tragedy. McLaughlin stated information should only come out once the investigations and reviews about the shooting response are finished.

When all investigations are complete, the city will look into releasing city records, according to McLaughlin.

Texas DPS asked ALERRT shortly after the attack to review the response to the Uvalde shooting. The organization was established in 2002 to provide active attack response training to first responders. The ALERRT research team not only evaluates the efficacy of response tactics but also has a long, established history of evaluating the outcomes of active shooter events to inform training.

Authors of the 26-page report said their findings were based on video taken from the school, police body cameras, testimony from officers on the scene and statements from investigators. Also among their findings:

— It appeared that no officer waiting in the hallway during the shooting ever tested to see if the door to the classroom was locked. The head of Texas’ state police agency has also faulted officers on the scene for not checking the doors.

— The officers had “weapons (including rifles), body armor (which may or may not have been rated to stop rifle rounds), training, and backup. The victims in the classrooms had none of these things.”

— When officers finally entered the classroom at 12:50 p.m. — more than an hour after the shooting began — they were no better equipped to confront the gunman than they had been up to that point.

—”Effective incident command” never appears to have been established among the multiple law enforcement agencies that responded to the shooting.

ALERRT has only released the first part of its review of the Uvalde shooting, which focuses on the first phase of active shooter response (stop the killing). The next report the group will release will address the second phase (stop the dying) and take a closer look at the command at the scene.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” State epidemiologist highlights response as Texas monkeypox cases rise

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported eight new cases of monkeypox in the state Wednesday on its map tracking infections nationwide.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reported that monkeypox symptoms usually begin with a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash that looks like pimples or blisters may appear soon after those initial symptoms. The rash typically appears first on someone’s face and spread to other body parts, according to DSHS. Lesions start forming at the same time, too, and they’ll progress from small red bumps to larger pus-filled bumps to scabs before falling off.

According to DSHS, the monkeypox virus can spread when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal, person or contaminated materials, like bedding or linens. Dr. Jennifer Shuford, the chief state epidemiologist at DSHS, said the current outbreak of this virus is passed around differently than COVID-19, which may explain why case counts remain low.

“We know that there there’s a small possibility that it can be spread through droplets, so little bits of respiratory secretions that come out of your mouth when you talk or sneeze or cough,” Shuford said. “But most of what’s driving the current outbreak is close skin-to-skin contact. Anytime somebody has those monkeypox lesions on their skin, they can spread it to somebody else through that really close skin-to-skin contact.”

She said there’s something else that makes monkeypox different from COVID-19.

“For a lot of times, people were spreading [COVID-19] before they even had any symptoms. They didn’t know that they needed to protect other people because they didn’t have symptoms of the disease,” Shuford said. “But with monkeypox, what we’re seeing is that people are spreading it once they have symptoms —that’s when it appears to be infectious.

“People should be aware of their own bodies: if they are developing skin bumps, or those other symptoms, like fever and lymph node swelling and headaches,” she added. “If you’re having those symptoms, just reach out to your health care provider and let them know and they can help navigate, like, is this something that could be monkeypox, or is this some other disease that could be circulating right now?”

The White House recently announced the intent of sending out tens of thousands of vaccine doses immediately as the nation tries to head off a growing monkeypox outbreak. The administration plans to allocate 296,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine over the coming weeks, which is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine specifically for monkeypox.

Of those, 56,000 doses that are in the Strategic National Stockpile will be allocated immediately. Over the coming months, a combined 1.6 million additional doses will become available, the White House said.

Shuford confirmed Texas has some vaccine doses still being held at the Strategic National Stockpile right now, but she said the shots have been easy to order and usually arrive in about 30 hours. She said several local health departments and other providers have administered the vaccine to Texans already. However, these shots are not widely available to anyone who wants them.

Shuford said the vaccine is authorized for those who have had a known exposure either through close contact or in a setting where monkeypox had been known to spread.

“There’s really specific populations right now that we’re trying to get that vaccine into,” Shuford said, “but we also know in conversations with CDC and with the company who’s manufacturing the vaccine that they’re really ramping up that vaccine production so that we can use it a little more widely and make sure that the people who are most at risk can get that vaccine.”

Tests are used to confirm a monkeypox diagnosis, and right now Shuford said public health laboratories throughout Texas are handling the swabs sent to them.

The Biden administration also announced Wednesday that Labcorp, one of the largest commercial laboratory testing networks in the U.S., will begin testing for monkeypox. Shuford said getting more commercial labs involved will help more people receive tests, but she said Texas has not come close to exceeding its capacity for testing for monkeypox.

“We’re still in a good position for testing the number of people that we need to in Texas at this point in time,” she said, “but having that extra capacity will allow us just a little bit of wiggle room in case we do start to see some bigger outbreaks in Texas that will have all of the lab capacity that we need to get people tested.”

The CDC initially warned that the earliest monkeypox cases in the U.S. mostly appeared in gay, bisexual or men who have sexual relationships with other men.

Shuford said that might be the case for some of the infections in Texas, too. However, she and other medical experts point out monkeypox is a communicable disease that can affect anyone — regardless of their sexual orientation.

“The group that’s most at risk right now might not be the same one that’s at risk in a week or a month,” she said. “We expect that this is going to be transmitted through different populations — and anybody that has close contact with somebody else, including household contacts. While we are a little a bit afraid about the stigmatization [of the LGBTQ+ community], there’s not really a place for it because, really, we’re all susceptible, and that close contact that happens between individuals is enough to spread it.”

Clinics close in response to Texas anti-abortion trigger law

An abortion provider plans to move its four Texas clinics, including one in Austin, to New Mexico in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

According to a GoFundMe set up by Whole Woman’s Health, the organization explained “our patients need a Whole Woman’s Health to go to now that Texas has cruelly taken away this basic healthcare need,” but it needs money to relocate.

Texas now has a few laws on the books, outlawing most abortions, although some have not yet gone into effect.

“The community has come to rely on us for these services. And over time, we’ve been continuously fighting with the state of Texas against all of the restrictions and harmful laws that have been introduced,” Whole Woman’s Health VP Andrea Ferrigno told KXAN Wednesday.

The Texas Tribune reported in early July the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state can enforce its abortion ban from 1925 civilly, meaning abortion providers could face fines and lawsuits if they perform the procedure. This decision overruled a Harris County district judge who temporarily blocked the old law from taking effect.

Whole Woman’s Health said the funds raised would help pack up the clinics, “buy and renovate a building, relocate and hire staff, and set up licenses and certifications in New Mexico.” As of Wednesday morning, just over $12,000 had been gathered out of the organization’s $750,000 goal.

Other than establishing its first clinic in Austin in 2003, Whole Woman’s Health expanded to have locations in McAllen, Fort Worth and McKinney.

“Opening a brick and mortar clinic site in New Mexico, where we already offer Virtual Services, will allow us to provide first and second trimester abortions to people from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and elsewhere in the South where safe, legal abortion care is restricted,” Whole Woman’s Health wrote online.

“We are asking the community to help us move our clinics to New Mexico because we want to be able to continue to support our patients. Right now we’re focusing on our Texas patients, but we are already getting calls from people from other states as well that are looking for services that are looking to hold myself to offer the care they need. And so we are asking our community to help us do that,” Ferrigno said.

Texas also has a trigger law that bans the majority of abortions, but it’s not expected to take effect for about two months or longer. That’s because the trigger ban is set to take effect 30 days after a judgment is issued from the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. SCOTUS has only so far issued its opinion.

The Texas Politics Project and the University of Texas released polling Wednesday morning, showing the majority of Texans do not support abortion restrictions to the extent the state enacted last year.

The state’s new trigger law, which bans abortions after 30 days of the Supreme Court’s official judgment overturning Roe v. Wade with no exceptions for rape or incest, was only supported by 37% of registered voters polled. There is an exception, though, when the mother’s life is at risk.

Even fewer Texans support a restriction that would completely ban abortions.

“Only a very small share of Texans about 15% want to make abortion completely unavailable. And you can cut that question a lot of ways, you can give people different conditions, and you can see that number move a little bit under different conditions. But for the most part, there is not majority support in Texas, for making abortion completely illegal,” Jim Henson with the Texas Politics Project said Wednesday.

Henson explained how the 87th legislature still passed such restrictive abortion measures if public opinion differs so greatly.

“There is not majority support for what the legislature did in 2021, particularly now that that’s been fully enacted because of the Supreme Court overturning Roe. And so politics that had been driven in recent years by the fact that Republicans dominate the political system in Texas, they dominate elections, that’s given a big influence to the faction in the Republican Party that is most extreme on abortion,” Henson explained.

“It’s more important now than ever that we fight,” – Wendy Davis reflects on her 2013 filibuster and the battles to come

KXAN’s Josh Hinkle speaks with former Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, about her 2013 abortion bill filibusters and the impact to follow.

The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has pushed abortion access and rights to the forefront of news cycles, but nine years ago around this same time, the topic was also being heavily debated in the Texas Legislature.

On June 25, 2013, then-Sen. Wendy Davis, cheered on by supporters, led the first filibuster to try and kill House Bill 2 in a special session.

Davis spoke with State of Texas host Josh Hinkle to reflect on that first filibuster nine years ago. She said even though HB2 passed, the experience taught her a few things.

“The lesson for me to be learned in that is that when we show up, and we believe and fight in our collective and individual power, we can rely on our ability to make change,” she said. “And I know people are feeling so upset, frustrated, sad, angry — as am I — but we can’t let that lead us to a state of giving up. It’s more important now than ever that we fight.”

HB2 banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, unless there was a risk of death for the pregnant person or the fetus had a severe medical problem, according to ACLU Texas.

The law also put rules on doctors and facilities that provide abortion services, saying clinics must meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, even if the center only provided abortion pills to patients.

Davis stood and spoke for more than 11 hours, but Republicans cut the Democrat’s effort short just prior to midnight — the deadline they needed to vote on the bill.

Hinkle, who was inside the chamber as the filibuster ended, reported at the time more than 50 state troopers were inside to handle the crowds, and a number of Davis’ supporters were forcibly taken out.

“They did everything they could including getting the crowd to chant,” said now-Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was a senator at the time. “I mean, you had House members, Democrat House members revving up the crowd, trying to drown us out so we couldn’t do our business. That’s not the way democracy works.”

But the rowdy crowd proved integral in preventing the Senate from taking down a vote in time.

CATCH UP: KXAN worked overnight during the summer 2013 filibusters to keep viewers informed on historic developments from the Capitol.

Lawmakers did manage to pass the bill a few weeks later in mid-July in another special session, but not before Davis led a second filibuster.

Now-Gov. Greg Abbott, who was Texas attorney general at the time, echoed history to come in an interview with KXAN after the 2013 bill’s passage.

“I do think that the United States Supreme Court, which is probably where this case will wind up, can reconcile Roe v. Wade and this law,” Abbott said back then.

  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas Capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.
  • JULY 2013: Crowds filled the Texas capitol building as a filibuster attempted to kill an abortion bill during a special session.

Eventually in 2016, the Supreme Court struck down the requirements for doctors and abortion facilities, but other parts of the law stayed active, ACLU Texas said.

Abbott went on to campaign for governor, as did Davis in 2014.

Davis said while the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe leaves many in a “murky” place, local officials can band together to offer support to women and those who can get pregnant.

“Harris County, where Houston is, passed a resolution proclaiming its support for reproductive healthcare. Austin is doing the same. Denton County even is about to step up and do this. And I think it’s really important city by city, county by county, that we are stepping forward and telling the people that live here, we are going to do everything we can to give you the proactive health care that you need. And until we can get this decision overturned, we’re going to try to get you the care you need out of state,” she said.

“I’m just trying to figure out what to do,” Food benefits delayed for some Texas families

Kihayla Soloye hasn’t been able to get any answers over the phone.

Round Rock Health and Human Services Food Stamp Office. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)
Round Rock Health and Human Services Food Stamp Office. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)

After weeks of waiting, on Tuesday morning she drove to the Round Rock Health and Human Services Food Stamp Office hoping to talk to someone after delays in getting what she described as a necessary benefit.

“Usually it’s a one-day process, and they process it and get me some help right away, but they told me to wait 30 to 45 days, which I thought I didn’t hear the lady right. Like I was, ’30 to 45 days?’ And she was like, ‘yeah,'” Soloye explained. 

She has been trying since May to renew her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP food benefits

“I have a 3-year-old son, you know, gas has been almost $5,” Soloye said. “I’m DoorDashing to get food for my son and gas money.”

A KXAN News viewer helping another family apply for the benefits sent an email saying, “Today they were told by the clerk ‘we are 65 days behind you’ll just have to wait.'”

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission oversee SNAP benefits.

TexaLone Star Card (Texas HHSC Photo)s HHSC Photo
SNAP food benefits are put on a Lone Star Card and can be used like a credit card at any store accepting SNAP. (Texas HHSC Photo)

Tiffany Young, assistant press officer with the agency, said as of June 26, there were an estimated 258,000 applications pending processing. 

“HHSC is taking action to process cases as quickly as possible to ensure timely access to important benefits,” Young said.

She added right now, 74% of applications are determined within 30 days from receiving it, which is within the federal time standard.

Young explained an increase in applications and staffing shortages have been challenging.

“The workforce and workload challenges throughout the pandemic have increased in the last few months when certain federal flexibilities ended, leading to an increase in processing times,” Young said. 

She explained the federal flexibilities, which ended, included SNAP certification extensions.

If qualified, a family of two can get about $459 a month in food benefits. For a family of five, it’s $992.

HHSC has held job fairs to help with recruitment.

Just this month the agency received federal approval to reinstate certain federal flexibilities including waiving the SNAP interview requirement and extending current SNAP re-certifications.

HHSC said families waiting on their application to be processed can contact 2-1-1, which is the Texas Information and Referral Network (2-1-1 TIRN), Option 1, to receive a referral to available resources.  

Families can also access the agency’s community partner, Feeding Texas, to locate local food bank information.