Orange County sheriff joins investigation into law enforcement response to Uvalde school shooting

The U.S. Department of Justice gathered a team of federal staff, experts to review Uvalde response

Orange County Sheriff John Mina is one of the experts the U.S. Department of Justice called upon to help in its review of the law enforcement response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff John Mina is one of the experts the U.S. Department of Justice called upon to help in its review of the law enforcement response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month.

The assessment of Uvalde’s law enforcement response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School, in which 19 children and 2 teachers were killed, will be conducted by the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office)

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According to the department, the office is leading a team of federal staff and subject matter experts to examine issues like policies, training, communications, deployment and incident command, tactics, and other practices connected to active shooter preparation and response.

The critical incident review will be led by experts, like Mina, who have extensive experience in areas like emergency management and active shooter response, school safety, incident command and management, tactical operations, officer safety and wellness, and victim and family support.

“I am honored to have been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice to serve on the Critical Incident Review Team for the Uvalde School Shooting. Many of us on the team have a shared experience no law enforcement leader wants: Our communities were the target of a mass shooting. I’m committed to drawing on that experience as we focus on the very important work of finding out what happened in Uvalde, and using that knowledge to improve law enforcement response to critical incidents and help prevent future tragedies,” Mina said in a statement to News 6 on Wednesday.

Mina’s experience in dealing with a mass shooting incident came about six years ago after he and his team, alongside other local law enforcement agencies, responded to the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. The shooting left 49 people dead and 53 people wounded.

Mina will be joined by the following experts:

  • Chief Rick Braziel (retired), Sacramento, Calif.
  • Deputy Chief Gene Deisinger (retired), Virginia Tech, Va.
  • Director of Public Safety Frank Fernandez (retired), Coral Gables, Fla.
  • Albert Guarnieri, FBI Unit Chief.
  • Major Mark Lomax (retired), Pennsylvania State Police, Pa.
  • Laura McElroy, CEO, McElroy Media Group.
  • Sheriff John Mina, Orange County, Fla.
  • April Naturale, Assistant Vice President, Vibrant Emotional Health
  • Chief Kristen Ziman (retired), Aurora, Ill.

“Nothing can undo the pain that has been inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors, and the entire community of Uvalde,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a news release. “But the Justice Department can and will use its expertise and independence to assess what happened and to provide guidance moving forward.”

The group will develop a complete reconstruction of the incident, review relevant documents, conduct site visits and interview relevant people connected to the incident in order to hold law enforcement accountable, identify lessons learned and better both law enforcement and community practices to prepare for and respond to active shooter incidents.

This comes after Uvalde law enforcement faced backlash from a grieving community after state officials said the chief delayed sending officers into the school for more than an hour when the gunman was inside, believing he was barricaded and the shooting had turned into a hostage situation. The commander overseeing police also added he was not informed of panicked 911 calls coming from students trapped inside the classrooms during the mass shooting.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.