It’s been since May 24 that a deranged shooter took the lives of nineteen children and two adults in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. An investigation is still underway and the public long ago lost patience with state officials dragging their feet in releasing information. The eighteen-year-old shooter was killed at the scene.
From the day of the shooting, the timeline of the events has been questioned, as have the roles played by various law enforcement agencies. Why did so many law enforcement officers stand outside the door of that classroom for so long as the gunman killed those children and two teachers? Initial information proved inaccurate, which is common, but then details that emerged over time didn’t get any better. It’s all devolved into a circular firing squad with Uvalde Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Uvalde School District Police, and Border Patrol agents all pointing fingers and blaming others for the tragic results.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, a Republican, was interviewed on CNN on Tuesday and voiced concern that there is a deliberate cover-up going on. He has lost faith in the Texas leaders doing the investigation. McLaughlin blames DPS Director Steven McCraw for the cover-up.
“I’m not confident, 100%, in DPS because I think it’s a cover-up,” he said of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the lead agency tasked with identifying what led to well-armed officers waiting outside a classroom for more than an hour before engaging the gunman.
“McGraw’s covering up for maybe his agencies,” McLaughlin continued in his sharpest attack yet on Col. Steven McCraw, the DPS director. McCraw told the Texas Senate that the police response was an “abject failure” and placed sole blame on school police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo.
But McLaughlin told CNN on Tuesday he did not feel the full story of the May 24 massacre was coming out, partly because Texas DPS was not being transparent.
“Every agency in that hallway is gonna have to share the blame,” he said. Personnel from multiple law enforcement agencies gathered inside and outside the school before the gunman was challenged and killed.
McLaughlin said in an interview: “At this point, I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.”
He said he trusts DPS individuals serving his community, but not upper management.
McLaughlin is not one to hold back when it comes to speaking his mind. Remember when Governor Abbott and other officials gave a press briefing at the Uvalde Civic Center and Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke hijacked the event to make a campaign commercial? He shouted Beto down without missing a beat. He called O’Rourke a “sick son of a bitch.”
As I mentioned, McLaughlin is a Republican but he has a history of criticizing state officials. So, it isn’t out of the ordinary that he is criticizing the DPS director. He said he hasn’t received a briefing from anyone since the day after the shooting.
McLaughlin opted to endorse former Republican state Sen. Don Huffines in the recent Texas primary for governor. He did not endorse Abbott, who he called a “fraud” on the website “The Texan.”
He has also had issues with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, telling Tucker Carlson: “I can’t get my own senators to call me back — as an elected official, I cannot get a callback.,”
McLaughlin wants Governor Abbott to return to Uvalde and speak to the grieving relatives of those lost that day. Abbott, it should be noted, has made several trips to Uvalde.
“I lost confidence because the narrative changed from DPS so many times and when we asked questions, we weren’t getting answers.”
McLaughlin asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the law enforcement response and that work has now begun.
He repeatedly said his goal was just to get the truth for the families of the two teachers and the 19 children, aged from 9 to 11, who were shot and killed that day.
And he called for Abbott to return to Uvalde to speak to the grieving relatives.
“These families want to talk to the governor and he needs to come and see them,” he said, adding he was writing to Abbott to make the request and restate his concerns with the investigation.
The frustration felt by local Uvalde residents has erupted into city council meetings. Residents question and end up in shout matches with city council members.
District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee of the 38th Judicial District is the one who ordered an investigation by the Texas Rangers division of DPS. The investigation is ongoing. Busbee is also being criticized. Mayor McLaughlin is teaming up with Uvalde state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (a Democrat). They want the state to take over the center being run by the local DA. It is a one-stop resource center for victims of the shooting. Their letter to the governor asks him to remove Uvalde’s district attorney from oversight of the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center.
They said in a letter to the governor’s office that the center has only provided “meager” benefits in the form of two-weeks of bereavement pay to the families of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the May 24 shooting.
“This, simply, is insufficient,” the letter states. “These families cannot begin to heal unless they are given time to grieve free from financial worry.”
Abbott announced the creation of the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center on June 6 and funded it with $5 million from the Governor’s Public Safety Office.
The center was created to be a one-stop shop for victims’ families and suffering community members with services including mental health resources, assistance with insurance forms and other aid. DA Christina Mitchell Busbee’s office was tasked with running the multi-agency effort.
I’m not sure exactly what they are asking for. Is it more money for the victims and their families? That is what it sounds like.
This whole tragedy has been horrific from the start. The ongoing confusion and mistrust in local officials is self-inflicted. This is a disaster of their own making. Everyone failed those children and their teachers.