(AUSTTIN, Texas) — Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested that schools conduct weekly door checks, among other security measures, in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed on May 24, when a gunman walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde armed with an AR-15-style rifle and opened fire in a classroom, police said.
The suspect was able to walk through an unlocked door, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. A teacher who saw the suspect approach the school had shut the door, which had been propped open by a rock, but the door did not lock, the agency said.
In a letter to the head of the Texas Education Agency on Thursday, Abbott outlined several actions the agency should take “in the wake of this devastating crime.”
Among those, Abbott said the agency should “instruct all school districts to conduct weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours.”
Abbott also said the agency should “develop strategies to encourage school districts to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school marshals on campuses.”
The letter references Senate Bill 11, which requires schools to adopt, review and amend rules regarding school safety and security. The Texas state legislature passed the bill a year after a deadly 2018 school shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10 people.
“You should immediately prepare additional rules to ensure that existing school facilities are also held to heightened safety standards,” Abbott wrote in the letter Thursday, addressed to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “Your task is to provide ways to make schools safer.”
Following the shooting in Uvalde, Abbott has also directed the Texas School Safety Center to conduct comprehensive school safety reviews and requested that the Texas legislature convene special committees to make legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, police training, firearm safety and social media.
“As Texans mourn the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week, we as a State must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence,” he wrote in a letter to Republican leaders Wednesday.
Abbott’s opponents have called on the governor to hold a special legislative session to address the state’s lax gun laws. The suspected gunman legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles in the days following his 18th birthday, police said.
“You cannot address gun violence without addressing guns,” Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, said during a campaign town hall in Dallas Wednesday. “I don’t think we should have AK-47s and AR-15s in our lives and in our communities.”
The police response to the shooting is also being scrutinized for the delay in breaching the classroom. The Justice Department announced earlier this week that it will be investigating the law enforcement response.
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