Uvalde School Massacre: Mayor denounces state agency investigating shooting, says elementary building will be demolished

At the meeting, Mayor Don McLaughlin also said Robb Elementary, where the massacre took place on May 24, will be razed.

“You could never ask a child to return to that school or a teacher to return to that school. Ever,” he said.

McLaughlin was highly critical of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and its chief, Col. Steven McCraw. The Texas Rangers, an agency of the DPS, is leading the investigation into the shooting, and McLaughlin told residents he was upset that he and other city officials were never told how the investigation was going. He went on to say he believed McCraw was making misleading statements to help distance the actions of state troopers and Texas Rangers who responded to the shooting.

“Colonel McCraw has continued, whether you want to call him… lying, divulging, misleading, or confusing information in order to steer his own soldiers and Rangers away from the response. At every briefing, he leaves out the number of his own officers and Rangers who were on site that day,” McLaughlin said.

Earlier in the day, McCraw appeared before Texas lawmakers criticizing law enforcement’s response to the massacre and harshly criticizing the decisions of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo.

“There is compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack on Robb Elementary was an abject failure and contrary to everything we have learned in the past two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he said. McCraw told the Texas Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans. in Austin.

“Three minutes after the subject entered the West Building, there were a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and incapacitate the subject,” he continued. “The only thing stopping the Corridor of Dedicated Officers from entering Rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children.”

Arredondo, who has not spoken in a public capacity since the incident, testified on Tuesday behind closed doors before the committee. The newly sworn council member was not present at the meeting where the other members voted unanimously to deny him leave from future sessions.

McLaughlin told residents of the meeting hall that he was angry that he could not get answers from the community to the questions they had and said that he had no allegiance to anyone, noting that he could no longer run for mayor.

“The gloves are off,” he said. “As we know (information about the investigation), we will share it. We are not going to hold back any longer. We have been silent at the request of (other agencies) because we thought we were doing a formal investigation and that we were doing the right thing.”

The mayor said he requested body camera video from all agencies responding to the shooting and received none.

Questions remain about what happened between the first and last shot

On May 24, the shooter with an AR-15 type rifle entered two adjacent classrooms at 11:33 a.m. and killed 21 people before a confrontation with police. The shooter remained inside the classrooms – even as the children inside called 911 and begged for help – until law enforcement finally entered the rooms and the kill at 12:50 p.m., according to a Public Security Service schedule.

What happened during those 77 minutes has remained unclear, as Texas officials have offered conflicting accounts of the response.

McCraw’s comments on Tuesday represent the first time an official has provided substantive information about the shooting in weeks. He said the decisions to wait contradict established active shooter protocol – to arrest the suspect as quickly as possible.

Texas House plans to release preliminary investigative report into Uvalde tragedy by mid-July, source says

“The officers had guns, the kids didn’t. The officers had body armor, the kids didn’t,” McCraw said. “The post-Columbine doctrine is clear, compelling, and unambiguous: stop killing, stop dying.”

The Public Safety Department calendar showed 11 officers arrived at the school, several with guns, within three minutes of the shooter entering classrooms. The suspect then shot and injured several officers who approached the classrooms, and they retreated to a hallway outside the classrooms. The group of officers then remained in the hallway and did not approach the door for another 73 minutes.

“As they waited, the commander on the scene was waiting for a radio and guns,” McCraw said, referring to Arredondo. “Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Finally he waited for a key that was never needed.”

Arredondo previously told the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the incident commander that day. However, at least one of the officers is noted at 11:50 a.m. expressing belief that Arredondo was leading the law enforcement response inside the school, telling the others, “The chief is in charge,” according to the schedule. of the public security service.

Despite the criticism, McCraw expressed embarrassment by calling out Arredondo individually. “I don’t like to single out a person and change and say he’s solely responsible, but at the end of the day, if you take command of the incident, you’re responsible,” McCraw said.

Officers did not attempt to force the doors open for over an hour

The image, obtained by the Austin-American Statesman, shows at least three officers in the hallway of Robb Elementary at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the shooter entered the school.  One officer has what appears to be a tactical shield and two of the officers are holding rifles.
Late Monday, reporting from CNN, the Texas Grandstand and the Austin American Statesman previewed part of the DPS timeline and revealed other flaws in the police response.
In the first days after the shooting, authorities said the suspect barricaded himself behind locked doors, preventing armed response officers from arresting him sooner.
Arredondo, who was identified by other officials as the incident commander at the scene, had previously told the Texas Grandstand that officers had discovered that the classroom doors were locked and reinforced with a steel stud, hampering any potential intervention or rescue. Efforts were made to locate a key to unlock the door, he said.

However, McCraw said video evidence showed no one ever put their hand on the doorknob to check if it was locked. Additionally, Robb Elementary’s doors could not be locked from the inside, McCraw said, calling it “ridiculous” from a security perspective.

Additionally, Arredondo initially said the responding officers needed more firepower and equipment to get through the gates. For example, at 11:40 a.m., Arredondo called Uvalde Police Department dispatch by phone shortly after the shooter fired on officers and requested additional assistance and a radio, according to a DPS transcript.

“We don’t have enough firepower right now, it’s all guns and he has an AR-15,” Arredondo said, according to a DPS transcript.

However, two of the first officers to arrive on the scene had guns, according to McCraw.

Within minutes of their response, an officer also said a Halligan, a firefighting tool used for forcible entry, was at the scene, according to the timeline. However, the tool was not brought into the school until an hour after officers arrived and was never used, according to the timeline.

A security image obtained by the US statesman from Austin shows at least three officers in the hallway – two of whom have rifles and one who appears to have a tactical shield – at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the shooter entered the school.

In all, officers had access to four ballistic shields inside the school, the fourth of which arrived 30 minutes before officers stormed classrooms, according to the timeline.

CNN has contacted Arredondo’s attorney, George Hyde, and the Uvalde Police Department about the reports.

CNN’s Rosalina Nieves, Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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