Taser-equipped drones could prevent school shootings, firm claims

Taser developer Axon said this week it is working to build drones armed with the electric stunning weapons that could fly in schools and “help prevent the next Uvalde, Sandy Hook, or Columbine.” But its own technology advisers quickly panned the idea as a dangerous fantasy.

The publicly traded company, which sells Tasers and police body cameras, floated the idea of a new police drone product last year to its artificial intelligence ethics board, a group of well-respected experts in technology, policing and privacy.

Some of them expressed reservations about weaponizing drones in over-policed communities of color. But they were not expecting Axon’s Thursday announcement that it wants to send those Taser-equipped drones into classrooms to prevent mass shootings by immobilizing an intruding gunman.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said he felt compelled to make the idea public after the mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school, saying he was “catastrophically disappointed” in the response by police who didn’t move in to kill the suspect for more than an hour.

But he stressed Friday that no product had been launched and any potential launch would be down the road.

What did police know as the Uvalde school shooting unfolded?

As investigators dig deeper into the law enforcement response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a host of disturbing questions remain about what officers on the scene knew as the deadly attack was unfolding.

Did any of them know children were trapped in a classroom with the gunman? Was that potentially critical information relayed to the incident commander on the scene? And did officers challenge the commander’s decision not to promptly storm the classroom?

Authorities have not released audio of the 911 calls or radio communications but have confirmed dispatchers received panicked 911 calls from students trapped in the locked classroom with the gunman while officers waited in a hallway outside.

In an apparent breakdown in communications, the commander overseeing police at the scene, school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, was never informed that children were calling 911 from inside the school, Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said Thursday.

Gutierrez told The Associated Press on Friday that the state agency investigating the shooting determined Arredondo was not carrying a police radio as the massacre unfolded.

The names: 19 children, 2 teachers killed in Uvalde school

Nineteen children were looking forward to a summer filled with Girl Scouts and soccer and video games. Two teachers were closing out a school year that they started with joy and that had held such promise.

Here’s what’s known about the 21 people killed Tuesday when an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School in the southwestern Texas town of Uvalde.

Families of victims to testify in Congress

Parents of victims and survivors of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde will appear before a House committee next week in an effort to bring home the devastation of America’s gun violence epidemic.