Baltimore Sun

‘Systemic failures’ in Uvalde response

Report finds ‘egregiousl­y poor’ decision-making after mass shooting

- By Jake Bleiberg and Paul J. Weber

UVALDE, Texas — Nearly 400 law enforcemen­t officials rushed to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, but “egregiousl­y poor decision-making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman who took 21 lives was finally confronted and killed, according to a damning investigat­ive report released Sunday.

The nearly 80-page report was the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcemen­t, and not just local authoritie­s in the South Texas town for the bewilderin­g inaction by heavily armed officers as a gunman fired inside a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School.

“At Robb Elementary, law enforcemen­t responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety,”

Wright, who played basketball for Wells and then worked under him for five years

at Madison, initiated the campaign. He filed the paperwork to the city, providing

the background material on Wells’ work in the community. Once approved, plans for the special day began. The ceremony will start at 2 p.m. and continue until 4 p.m. A VIP reception will follow.

“He’s always been a great mentor, a leader, and not for just myself, but hundreds and hundreds of basketball players in the community,” Wright said.

“Wells provided lifestyle skills, showing young people how to go out and have a good quality of life and become well-rounded individual­s — spirituall­y, mentally and physically. Madison Square was always a safe haven for young people, and he was always leading the charge.”

Like many other city recreation centers, Madison Square, which opened in 1962, was renowned for basketball. The games between Madison Square and Lafayette Square Recreation Center were known to draw crowds. In 1972, when constructi­on was complete on “The Dome” — a flat, gray roof over Madison Square’s outdoor

court, complete with concrete bleachers that seated thousands — the interest soon reached a national level.

It was there that players establishe­d their games in front of large crowds that brought a festival-like environmen­t. Featured over the decades at Madison were area greats Skip Wise, Larry Gibson, Muggsy Bogues, Sam Cassell, Reggie Williams, Mark Karcher, Duane Ferrell, Keith Booth and many others. Many went on to enjoy successful college careers, some played profession­ally and others found career paths outside the sport.

Most were under the watchful eye and wise mentorship of Wells, who also founded the St. Frances boys basketball program in 1980 and took it to national prominence in his 28 years at the helm.

Karcher started going to Madison Square when he was 7 years old, with football topping the list of his favorite sports. It soon became basketball, and under the tutelage of Wells, he made history. A prized recruit coming into high school, Karcher decided to follow his mentor at St. Frances. From 1993 to 1997, the Panthers reached the Baltimore Catholic League championsh­ip game every year, winning the last three.

“I was raised by my grandparen­ts, so Coach was more like a father figure to me. He embraced me,” said Karcher, who enjoyed a standout career at Temple University and then played profession­ally overseas.

“With Coach, he supports you off the court more than on the court, in my opinion, and the reason I say that is, we always had a lot of talks before and after practices, and they were about life. He always wanted us to stay on the right path, do the right things, and he was always consistent with that. Basketball kind of spoke for itself, but the stuff he taught me off the court has helped me with my life and moving forward with my kids now.”

The support Wells provided reached further than at Madison and St. Frances, as he regularly brought players into his home. His daughter, Keita, saw the hope he instilled. Now, as director of marketing and community engagement for the city, she’s helping others, just like her father.

“To watch him mentor and be a role model for these young men ... they weren’t just going over basketball, he was giving basketball plays of life,” she said. “That was exciting to see. And as I got older and started getting into my own career and profession working with youth, I learned so much of him inspiring me without even knowing it.”

Sean Mosley, a 2008 St. Frances graduate, knows where he plans to be on July 30. The former Panthers star became a two-year captain at the University of Maryland, College Park, and played profession­ally overseas.

Now he’s the founder and president of Mosley Basketball Inc., which offers several activities to provide Maryland youth an opportunit­y to excel in the classroom, on the basketball court and in life.

“Coach Wells always gave kids an opportunit­y,” Mosley said. “Having a coach that I could connect with on the basketball level and as a person outside of basketball was huge. He used to drop me off at home sometimes after late practices and we would have conversati­ons about life. So, he’s definitely a leader and inspired a lot of guys to do the right things, and the ones that listened to him, took in the conversati­ons, it paid off for them.

“He’s legendary. Having the street named after him is huge and hopefully all the guys that played under him and all his friends and everybody can make it. I’ll be there for sure.”

St. Frances — where he won more than 500 games, six Baltimore Catholic League tournament titles, two Maryland Interschol­astic Athletic Associatio­n A Conference crowns and coached the last Baltimore-area team to win the prestigiou­s Alhambra Catholic Invitation­al Tournament championsh­ip — is where Wells received most of his accolades.

But Madison Square Recreation Center laid the groundwork.

“That’s the beginning of all of it for me, Madison,” he said.

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