Uvalde school shooting: Texas DPS ‘did not fail’ Uvalde in its response, director says, as families demand he resign



CNN

Faced with calls for his resignation from victims’ relatives and a major newspaper, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw, who is not stepping down, said at a board meeting Thursday that his officers “did not fail the community” of Uvalde during the mass shooting in May that killed 19 fourth-graders and their teachers. two who were killed.

“If DPS as an institution failed families, failed schools, or failed the community of Uvalde, then I have to go,” McCraw said at a Texas Public Safety Commission meeting. “But I can tell you this right now: DPS as an institution has not yet failed the public, plain and simple.”

McCraw’s comments, which came shortly after several victims’ families called for his resignation, follow the referral of seven DPS officers for investigation by the agency’s inspector general over what they did — or what they didn’t do – when a gunman killed 21 people at Robb Elementary. the worst attack on an American school in nearly a decade.

Although nearly 400 DPS officers and 22 other agencies responded on May 24 to the Uvalde campus within minutes of the first shots fired, police waited 77 minutes — a jump standard firearms regulations and training – before jumping into nearby classrooms to find victims. and killing an 18-year-old gunman.

McCraw had previously vowed to “resign (resign) from the governor” if his department was found guilty in connection with the shooting.

“It’s been five months and three days since my son, his classmates and his teachers were killed,” said Brett Cross, who was helping raise his one-year-old nephew. 10 Uziyah Garcia before the boy was shot dead.

But as the clock ticked, Cross said, “A few numbers remain the same: It’s been 77 minutes that all 91 of your officers have been waiting outside while our children are being slaughtered.

“We can’t wait anymore. Our families, our communities, our country have waited long enough. And playing politics will put the lives of many Texans at risk,” Cross said, adding, “I expect …

Cross repeated his call for McCraw to resign – or be fired by the governor – on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°”.

“He just refuses to do the right thing, and it’s disgusting,” he told Cooper. because they failed.”

After the board meeting, a leading Texas newspaper also called for McCraw to resign or be fired.

“In the days since the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, who faced Uvalde parents on Thursday, made a strong case for his resignation or shooting,” San Antonio Express- News wrote.

“McCraw has to resign. If he doesn’t, Abbott has to fire him.”

The paper described how family members of the victims reminded McCraw that he told CNN in September that he would resign if the military was “to blame” for the slow response to the incident.

McCraw on Thursday did not elaborate on his agency’s internal review of the response, repeating only that every DPS officer on the scene will be reviewed.

One officer, McCraw said, resigned pending the investigation and is ineligible to return to the department, while another is “under the termination process right now.” .”

However, while McCraw admitted Thursday that his agency was not at fault — admitting that its officers were there within minutes of the shooting starting — he did not he offered to resign immediately.

Thursday’s session began with a public comment period, with five minutes per speaker, starting with Sen. State Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde and said calls for McCraw’s resignation are justified.

Pointing out not only the officers’ mistakes on the day of the shooting, but the release of false DPS information in the weeks that followed, Gutierrez said the shooting has “damaged the faith of Texans” that we can trust the word and actions of law enforcement. law. – especially the Department of Public Safety.”

In his statement, the group made up of loved ones of the victims, Lives Robed, expressed disappointment with Thursday’s meeting, indicating that it fell short of their expectations.

“Today, the Department of Public Safety promised an update on the shooting at Robb Elementary School. That did not happen,” the statement said. Instead, by cheating, they held a glorified press conference and again refused to accept responsibility for their mistakes.”

“We will not allow the Ministry to share in our grief, and the death of our children. “We call on the Department of Public Safety and the Commission to provide a truthful report of their investigation, and for it to be accepted by the community affected by this tragic incident,” it said.

Cross told CNN that the meeting was ridiculous and, “I’m upset that DPS continues to waste our time. … They’re not telling us anything.”

The meeting comes as the epidemic of US school shootings shows no signs of abating, with at least 67 such attacks reported this year on US campuses, including a high school student and teacher killed in Monday St. Louis.

McCraw’s words did not quell the anger of the victims’ families, some of whom spoke to the manager before the meeting took a short break and moved on to other business.

Cross pressed the director about his opinion that he would resign if DPS was guilty, asking McCraw, “So your officers were there in 10 minutes. Is that right? ”

“That’s right,” McCraw said.

“Aren’t they representatives of your department?” The cross continued.

“Okay,” McCraw said.

“So, they failed?” Cross asked.

“Okay,” McCraw said.

“Therefore, DPS failed, therefore, there is liability,” Cross said. “Therefore, if you are a man of your word, then you will retire.”

Thursday’s hearing marked McCraw’s first public testimony about the bloodshed in Uvalde since June when, before a state Senate committee, he said the response to the shooting was an “absolute failure” — but he place much of the blame on district and school police, including the agency’s chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who federal authorities say is the mastermind behind the incident.

Arredondo, who denied being on the job, was fired in August — a move his attorney called “an illegal public lynching,” adding that Arredondo should be reinstated. at work, with all back pay and benefits.

Arredondo was one of five school district officers at Robb Elementary, while DPS had 91 personnel respond to the shooting — the most outside of the US Border Patrol, according to a July report. the investigative committee of the House of Representatives.

The agency continues to be under scrutiny for its role in the response to the crisis, with its first report released after days of bloodshed and widespread surveillance footage. officials revealed to CNN that a DPS trooper arrived at Robb Elementary ahead of agency leaders. would publicly admit.

After an internal review of the actions of each DPS officer at the scene, seven were referred by the agency for investigation by the agency’s inspector general.

Among them is Capt. Joel Betancourt of the state police, who tried to delay the group of officers from entering the classrooms, told investigators that he thought a more skilled team was on the way, CNN reported.

Also included was Texas Ranger Christopher Ryan Kindell, who sources told investigators was focused on giving his superiors updates and not talking about options to skip classes. He is seen on surveillance footage and body cameras talking on the phone, and at one point, apparently offering to talk to the gunman.

McCraw criticized similar attempts at negotiations by Arredondo, calling them a “bad decision.”

One of the seven, Sgt. Juan Maldonado, was given termination papers, DPS said Friday, with sources confirming to CNN his firing was the result of his role in the day’s shooting response.

And former DPS trooper Crimson Elizondo worked this summer with the school district’s police department, but was fired after CNN revealed he was among those under investigation.

Each of these officials declined to comment or did not respond when contacted by CNN.

The Social Security Commission now includes four members – all appointed by Governor Greg Abbott. Meanwhile, several families of Uvalde’s victims are campaigning for Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s Democratic challenger who has called for Uvalde’s response to argue that the governor’s term should end.

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