- Texas officials said federal agents stormed Robb Elementary school despite local police orders.
- An agent with BORTAC shot and killed the gunman, according to officials.
- BORTAC was established in 1984 and engages in specialized missions near the border.
Nineteen children and 2 adults died after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
Although the timeline of events during and after the shooting continues to change, law enforcement said a BORTAC agent was responsible for killing the shooter after ignoring local police’s instructions to stay outside the school.
BORTAC, or the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, was one of several federal agencies on the scene that came to assist local police. After 30 minutes of waiting outside the elementary school, BORTAC officials entered the building, eventually unlocked the room the shooter barricaded himself in and shot him to death, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Border Patrol typically operates in Uvalde, which is located within 100 miles of the border, Texas Monthly reported. BORTAC agents often carry their tactical gear in their cars and were able to quickly prepare for the shooting, according to The Journal.
Although officials like ICE, Border Patrol, and other federal agencies work together in the state of Texas, they often don’t take the role of subduing a shooter, The New York Times reported.
What is BORTAC?
BORTAC was established in 1984 to quell uprisings within Immigration and Naturalization Service detention centers. It now serves as the Border Patrol’s version of a SWAT team and engages in services related to human smuggling, drug trafficking, and high-risk missions.
BORTAC conducts missions within the United States and in other countries “in furtherance of the U.S. Border Patrol’s mission,” but typically operates in desert areas around the US-Mexico border.
The unit is headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and can be deployed immediately when needed. It provides “an immediate response” to “emergent and high-risk” incidents, according to US Customs and Border Patrol.
The agency has been involved in high-profile missions before, including the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat, two convicted murderers who escaped New York prison in 2015.
The unit faced criticism for its response at George Floyd’s burial service in Texas in 2020, where it had been authorized to use deadly force against protesters, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. BORTAC was also present at the border with military weapons during the wave of migrant caravans from Central America and Mexico in 2018.
A former Border Patrol agent told Insider’s Oma Seddiq in 2020 that the unit was one of the “most violent and racist” of all law enforcement agencies after they were deployed to suppress Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, Oregon.