World · August 6, 2022

Uvalde under scrutiny: what we know about the key figures related to shooting response

Title: Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (appointed by Governor Greg Abbott)

His link with the massacre: McCraw leads the state agency investigating the law enforcement response to the Uvalde mass shooting. His agency includes the Texas Rangers, an investigative branch of Texas DPS.

McCraw called the police response “an abject failure and antithetical to everything we have learned in the past two decades from the Columbine massacre.”

He identified the incident commander as the school district police chief and criticized the chief’s decision not to immediately break down the classroom door. Officers waited in or around a corridor for more than an hour after the shooting began.

“It was the wrong decision, period,” McCraw said. “There is no excuse for that.”

Why is it under scrutiny: The mayor of Uvalde criticized McCraw for accusing the Uvalde School Police Chief when officers from McCraw’s agency were also present.

The DPS did not directly address McLaughlin’s criticisms of McCraw. In a July 5 statement, the DPS said it was “committed to working with more law enforcement agencies to get the answers we are all looking for” and said “this is still a very active and ongoing investigation.”

The 376 rescuers came from a variety of agencies, according to a report by the Texas House Investigative Committee. Among them, 149 were from the United States Border Patrol, 91 from the Texas Department of Public Security, and 14 from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Every agency in that corridor will have to share the blame,” Mayor McLaughlin told CNN on July 5.

A changing timeline of when DPS personnel arrived on the scene raises serious questions about the department’s reliability, the head of Texas’s largest police union told CNN. He asked for an “independent external source” to probe the initial response.

“I don’t know if we can trust (DPS) to do an internal investigation,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which represents some law enforcement officers in Uvalde. “I’d say DPS was quick to wash their hands, point fingers and make sure the general public, especially elected officials, knew they were spotless, blameless and that this was a local problem.”

The last one: While the DPS director in June called the response a “abject failure”, a DPS soldier was on the scene outside Robb Elementary School only 2 minutes and 28 seconds after the gunman entered, CNN was the first to report on August 2. The soldier was seen on the video police bodycam provided to CNN by McLaughlin.

Earlier, McCraw said a soldier entered the hallway at 11:42 am, or nine minutes after the killer entered the school. The Uvalde police bodycam video first reported by CNN showed a DPS soldier at the school’s west entrance at 11:37:51 am, about five minutes earlier than previously recognized.

The DPS investigation into the shooting will include an internal review of the actions taken by each DPS officer on the scene to determine if anyone should be referred to an inspector general for investigation, McCraw said Aug.4. The DPS director said he had not yet reviewed video from all 34 cameras in the body – noting that he may have to correct that number in the future – but he had seen excerpts.

McCraw will not publicly release any details of the investigation, in accordance with a request from the Uvalde County District Attorney, he said, noting that the case could take years.

Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc / Corbis / Getty Images