Speaking to Uvalde residents on Tuesday evening, the city’s mayor Don McLaughlin defended local police officers, and school police chief Pete Arredondo, that entered Robb Elementary shortly after last month’s fatal school shooting began. McLaughlin blasted state officials for allegedly selectively releasing information that leaves out the state’s response.
At a recent school board meeting, parents gathered to call for the removal of Arredondo. Brett Cross, a father who lost a child in the massacre said "We were failed by Pete Arredondo. He killed our kids, teachers, parents and city, and by keeping him on your staff, y'all are continuing to fail us."
"Having Pete still employed, knowing he is incapable of decision-making that saves lives, is terrifying," Cross said at the meeting. "Do what is right. Remove Pete from employment."
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told lawmakers in the State Senate that the police response to the May 24 shooting that saw 19 children and 2 teachers killed was an "abject failure." The city of Uvalde has hired a private law firm to try to stop the release of information on the shooting.
Speaking to the State Senate on Tuesday, McCraw said that officers at the scene of Robb Elementary could have put a stop to shooter Salvador Ramos’ rampage in "three minutes."
"There is compelling evidence the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre," he said, adding that "officers had weapons... and body armor. The children had none."
McLaughlin addressed the city the same day that McCraw did, blasting McCraw's analysis.
"McCraw has continued to, whether you want to call it, lie, leak … mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response," McLaughlin said Tuesday evening, according to the Texas Tribune.
"There were no less than eight law enforcement agencies present in the hallway leading up to the breach of the door at Robb Elementary School," McLaughlin added, according to the Daily Mail. "Every briefing, he leaves out the number of his own officers and rangers that were on the scene that day."
"He leaves out that during this time, every other classroom in the building was safely evacuated by Uvalde peace officers with the assistance of Border Patrol," McLaughlin said.
McCraw also noted that there were ample warning signs leading up to the shooting in regards to Ramos, saying that he was "moving toward a pathway to violence" and had "taken on the demeanor of a school shooter."
McLaughlin's statements also came after the first image from inside Robb Elementary during the shooting was published, showing officers with rifles and ballistic shields. The photo was timestamped 11:52, nearly an hour before Ramos was shot and killed.