AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Mayor Uvalde on Friday disputed a new report that says authorities missed a chance to …
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Mayor Uvalde on Friday disputed a new report that says authorities missed a chance to quickly end the massacre at a Texas elementary school, again reflecting the lack of definitive answers about law enforcement’s slow response to one of the deadliest classroom shootings in US history.
Mayor Don McLaughlin said Uvalde police officers did not see the gunman outside Robb Elementary before he went inside, and neither had a chance to shoot the shooter. His comments contradict a critique of law enforcement’s decision-making that was released this week by tactical response experts at Texas State University.
The differing descriptions and public rebuke in the report confirm that more than six weeks after the May 24 shooting, questions remain about how and why police, armed with rifles and bulletproof shields, waited more than an hour before confronting the gunman in a fourth-grade classroom. where 21 people died, including 19 children.
It also widened the rift between Uvalde officials and the state, particularly the Texas Department of Public Safety, which had troopers on the scene and placed much of the blame on the local school district’s police chief. The new report was requested by DPS, and the findings were similar to the narrative and details previously released publicly by state police leaders.
“Dozens of DPS troopers were on scene in the classroom at the time of the breach,” McLaughlin said in a statement.
Department of Public Safety officials did not respond to requests for comment. But DPS told lawmakers on Friday that Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Busby had not authorized the agency to publicly release the 77-minute video of the school hallway before the classroom break-in. Busbee’s did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
This isn’t the first time McLaughlin has lashed out at the agency. He previously accused him of publicly providing incomplete and one-sided information, while he says local officials have been instructed not to release information while the investigation is underway.
Col. Steve McCraw, who heads DPS, largely blamed law enforcement inaction on Uwlade School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, naming him the incident commander during the shooting.
Arredondo told the Texas Tribune he did not believe he was responsible for the scene. He has kept a low profile since the shooting and resigned from his elected position on the city council last week.
This week’s report was produced by the university’s Advanced Law Enforcement First Responder Training Program. The authors of the 26-page report said they were contacted by DPS shortly after the shooting to assess the law enforcement response and that they held a roughly hour-long briefing led by an unnamed “investigating officer.”
One of the most striking details of the report was how a Uvalde police officer, armed with a rifle, watched the gunman walk toward the campus but did not fire, waiting for permission from the supervisor to shoot. According to the report, the manager “either didn’t hear or responded too late.”
McLaughlin said no Uvalde officer had a chance to shoot the gunman before entering the school, and that while the officer did see someone outside, he couldn’t say who it was.
“At the end of the day, it was a coach with kids on the playground, not a shooter,” McLaughlin said.
Pete Blair, executive director of the learning center that released the report, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Friday.
A separate report on the shooting is being compiled by Texas lawmakers who spent weeks interviewing more than 20 witnesses and first responders behind closed doors. It is not yet clear when these findings will be published.
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.