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.”
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
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.
“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.”
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
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.
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.