Officers from at least eight law enforcement agencies were in the hallway outside the classrooms, the mayor said, and accused the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Col. Steven McCraw, of trying to direct attention away from the response by the department and its Texas Ranger Division.
“Col. 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. Every briefing he leaves out the number of his own officers and Rangers that were on-scene that day,” McLaughlin said.
“Col. McCraw has an agenda, and it’s not to present a full report and to give factual answers to the families of this community,” he said. “What matters to Uvalde is that these brokenhearted families and this grieving community get a full investigation and an accurate report of what happened that day. The petty infighting, the clickbait headlines and the politically motivated scapegoating is not helping anyone. It is dividing a community and further frustrating grieving families.”
McLaughlin was adamant to residents that he has no desire to ever pursue elected office again and is “not covering up for anybody,” saying all responding agencies should be held accountable.
CNN has reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety for comment.
Hours before Tuesday’s council meeting, McLaughlin initially announced he would not be commenting on the investigation on request from Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee, and that the “premature release” of any material relating to the investigation “is a disservice to families who lost children or parents because the true facts need to come out once all investigations/reviews, which the City expects will be thorough and fair, are complete.”
Mayor: ‘We are not going to hold back anymore’
Tuesday’s developments came after reporting from CNN, the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman previewed some of the DPS timeline and revealed further flaws in the police response.
Citing a DPS assessment, McCraw told the state Senate committee Tuesday that Uvalde school police officers’ radios would not have worked inside the school building due to a weaker signal. Border Patrol agents had the only portable radios that could have worked, he said, but when Border Patrol tried to patch their signals together with local law enforcements’ devices, their radios didn’t work either.
To gain a fuller picture of law enforcement response to the shooting, McLaughlin has requested bodycam footage from every law enforcement agency that was present that day, he said, but has not received any.
“I have no power,” he said. “I have to answer to a bunch of bureaucrats that don’t do their jobs, and that’s why I’m calling them out today.”
McCraw addressed the release of bodycam footage during his testimony Tuesday, saying, “Whenever the district attorney approves it, we are going to release all the body camera coverage, we’re going to release all the school video and the funeral video.”
McLaughlin said he was meant to receive a daily briefing from authorities over the investigation since its onset, but has not had any provided. At other agencies’ requests, the few updates received by the city were not released publicly in deference to a formal investigation, McLaughlin said, yet he slammed officials having public hearings “and not share a damn thing with this city.”
“The gloves are off. As we know it, we will share it. We are not going to hold back anymore.”
CNN has reached out to the district attorney’s office, the chair of the Texas House investigating committee and the San Antonio office of the FBI for further comment.
McLaughlin also reiterated Tuesday that, in consultation with the school superintendent, Robb Elementary would be demolished.
“You could never ask a child to go back or a teacher to go back to that school. Ever,” he said.
CNN’s Andy Rose, Rosa Flores, Christina Maxouris, Amanda Musa, Rosalina Nieves, Rebekah Riess and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.