Hours after Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told a state Senate panel Tuesday that efforts by law enforcement to end the Robb Elementary School mass shooting sooner were an "abject failure," Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin slammed McCraw and his agency for its lack of transparency in the aftermath of the massacre.
Speaking at a special Uvalde City Council meeting Tuesday night, McLaughlin lamented that police body camera footage recorded during the May 24 shooting and currently controlled by the DPS, the FBI, the Uvalde district attorney, and the Texas Legislature, is being released in only "bits and pieces," which he said "continues to create chaos in our community and keeps the whole truth from coming out."
McLaughlin said he believes McCraw, whose office is conducting one of multiple investigations into law enforcement's response to the massacre, "has an agenda, and it's not to present a full report on what happened and to give factual answers to the families of this community."
The mayor also accused McCraw of repeatedly omitting the role of Uvalde's own police officers in the law enforcement response.
Community members at Tuesday's meeting expressed anger and frustration at the shifting narrative that has left key questions unanswered nearly a month after the deadly shooting that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School.
Brett Cross, the legal guardian of fourth grader Uziyah Garcia, who was killed in the shooting, demanded "action, justice, transparency, and accountability" from council members.
Donna Torres, a longtime Uvalde resident, bluntly said, "Do your job, mayor."
Many residents also called for the dismissal of embattled school Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was sworn in as a city council member at the end of May, and was the on-side commander during the shooting. In what was described as an effort to promote transparency, the City Council unanimously denied Arredondo's request for a leave of absence from future meetings, but McLaughlin said he would vote "yes" to replace Arredondo on the city council if he misses three consecutive meetings.
"I'm not covering up for anybody," McLaughlin said. "If you're guilty, we're going to throw it out there. You want to cover up? We're gonna throw it out there. There's no more, no more, no more."
"But I'm not the only elected official you need to be screaming at," he added. "Go to your district attorney. Ask her why we're not getting answers. Because, believe me, I'm as frustrated as you are."