Why Uvalde CISD still uses alert system deployed during mass shooting

FILE – Investigators search for evidence outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022, after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Editor’s Note: KXAN updated this story to include a response from Raptor on how its system works and its perspective on how it was used during the Uvalde shooting.

UVALDE, Texas (Nexstar) — During the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, the campus lockdown procedure was delayed, partially because of how campus staff responded to the district’s alert system. The district is still using the same processes for alerts, which lawmakers cited among the communication failures during the shooting.

UCISD’s alert system, Raptor, is a phone app for staff to use in the event of lockdowns, evacuations and other emergencies. The district’s interim superintendent Gary Patterson confirmed that Raptor is still the alert system used by faculty and staff on campus.

According to the House Committee investigative report into the shooting, how the staff responded to the Raptor system after repeated alerts contributed to a “culture of complacency.”

With the district’s proximity to Highway 83 and 90 near the Texas-Mexico border, there were frequent “bailouts” that occurred near the school and caused area campuses to go on lockdown. The report describes a “bailout” as when vehicles smuggling migrants lead authorities on high-speed chases, ending with a vehicle crash for occupants to “bailout” of the car, or scatter.

In the event of bailouts, lockdowns in the district would occur. However, the report notes the Raptor system “does not differentiate its signals between bailouts and other kinds of alerts, such as an active shooter situation.”

Additionally, the House report claims faculty at Uvalde CISD “did not always reliably receive the Raptor alerts,” either because of poor WiFi or teachers not carrying their phones.

Representatives of Raptor tell Nexstar that the committee did not reach out to their company for interviews or information when conducting the investigation into the shooting.

Raptor’s response to the committee’s investigative report stated its alert system can be used “by virtually any device with a browser, and which transmits data using any form of internet connection, including wired, cellular and Wi-Fi therefore not requiring internet connectivity.”

Uvalde parent Adam Martinez said he was shocked when he learned the district is still using the Raptor system, after a meeting with the interim superintendent.

“Parents are furious. They want to put trust in in them, and they do things like this,” Martinez said. “I worry about it all the time.”

His son, who is now homeschooled due to trauma, was a student at Robb Elementary. But Martinez’s daughter still attends school in the district. He said he worries about students being unnecessarily re-traumatized when any alert goes off.

“It’s not necessary to re-traumatize a child, when it’s just a fire drill,” Martinez said. “They’re thinking the worst, the kids are thinking the worst ‘oh, crap, is this an active shooter situation?'”

Nexstar asked UCISD about the continued use of the Raptor alerts and staff training.

“There are certainly financial barriers, but as of now we are looking at additional training as well as additional security steps in the operating system,” Patterson said in an email to Nexstar.

Raptor response to House Report

Following the July House Investigative Committee report into the Robb Elementary shooting, Raptor released a statement suggesting clarifications for the panel’s findings.

“Raptor’s technology worked as it was intended, providing hundreds of emergency lockdown notifications within seconds of the lockdown being initiated before the shooter even entered the building,” Raptor said in a statement to Nexstar.

Raptor refutes that then-principal of Robb Elementary School, Mandy Gutierrez, “attempted” to initiate the lockdown alert, calling that statement “inaccurate.”

“Raptor has log data confirming that Principal Gutierrez successfully initiated the lockdown for Robb Elementary at 11:32 A.M. and confirming that, within seconds, the Raptor system successfully generated 91 critical notifications (like an Amber Alert), 68 text messages, and 136 emails to all configured user devices associated with the Robb campus or the district office,” Raptor CEO Gray Hall wrote to the committee.

Southwest

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