UVALDE, Texas – Friday marks the one-month anniversary since the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24.
An 18-year-old high school dropout murdered 19 students and two teachers and wounded countless others during the shooting.
Details surrounding the shooting have drastically changed over the last month.
Gov. Greg Abbott initially praised the police response before saying he was “misled” about the events surrounding what happened, causing him to share inaccurate information in the days following the shooting.
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott said on May 27. “The information I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I am absolutely livid about that.”
Multiple investigations are underway into the police response to the massacre, with authorities often releasing conflicting information. Officials have had to correct and retract information provided to the public on multiple occasions since the tragedy.
Texas DPS Testimony
Just this week, new details have come out regarding the timeline of events. Shocking testimony from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw on Tuesday revealed an “abject failure” of law enforcement’s response to the shooting.
McCraw testified before the Texas Senate and provided the most insight, to date, into what happened during the massacre.
One of the most shocking revelations McCraw revealed was that a “sufficient number” of armed officers wearing body armor could have stopped the shooting three minutes after arriving if not for the inaction of Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo.
McCraw said Arredondo, 50, “decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
“One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. That’s how long children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued,” McCraw told the Texas Tribune.
Multiple 911 calls were placed by children inside the two classrooms during that time. Calls that were reportedly not relayed to Arredondo.
One call that went through, however, was from slain Robb Elementary teacher Eva Mireles. She called her husband, Ruben Ruiz, who is an officer with the Uvalde school district and told him she “had been shot and was dying.”
McCraw revealed during his testimony that Ruiz tried to move forward in the hallway outside the classroom after talking to his wife but was detained.
“They took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene,” McCraw said. He didn’t reveal who specifically detained Ruiz.
McCraw revealed mistakes and missed opportunities by law enforcement and placed blame on Arredondo who has largely been in hiding since the shooting.
Arredondo has said he didn’t consider himself the incident commander at the scene of the shooting and has said he didn’t give any instructions that police shouldn’t breach the building, according to the Texas Tribune.
The embattled Arredondo was elected to represent Uvalde City Council District 3 in the May 7 election prior to the shooting and was privately sworn in as a city council member on May 31, just one week after the massacre.
Some Uvalde citizens have been searching for a way to remove Arredondo ever since he took office and it appears one woman may have been able to get the ball rolling on his expulsion. Kim Hammond discovered a loophole in city policy that changed the course of a nationally watched vote during a Uvalde city council meeting Tuesday.
Hammond effectively swayed the Uvalde council not to grant Arredondo a leave of absence from future meetings. According to city policy, Hammond testified, if Arredondo misses three meetings, then a special election can be called and he can be voted out. He’s already missed two and the next city council meeting is scheduled for July 12.
On Wednesday, Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell placed Arredondo on administrative leave from his position as the district’s chief of police.
Shields, Rifles, Body Armor
Arredondo granted Texas Tribune an exclusive interview two weeks after the shooting and said he spent more than an hour in the hallway of Robb Elementary, calling for “tactical gear, a sniper and keys to get inside.”
He told the publication that he was holding back from the doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking the gunman and that when keys for the door finally arrived, he tried dozens to no avail.
“Each time I tried a key I was just praying,” Arredondo told the Tribune on June 9.
McCraw’s testimony on June 21 contradicts Arredondo’s account that he needed to wait for keys and tactical gear.
Police at the scene reportedly had a “hooligan” crowbar that could have been used to break down the door but reports have also claimed that the doors were not locked to begin with.
Even if the doors were locked, another report from the Texas Tribune notes that “security footage from the hallways does not capture any attempt by officers, including Arredondo, to open the doors.”
McCraw stated that there were officers with rifles in the hallway for over an hour before police entered the classroom and that 91 DPS troopers were on the scene during the initial response.
He also testified that the first shield arrived less than 20 minutes after the shooter entered the school, further muddying Arredondo’s claims that Arredondo was giving orders he thought would best protect lives.
Thus far, the only consistency in details regarding the shooting is that officers waited more than an hour before breaching the classrooms and killing the teenage gunman.
The final funeral for the 21 victims of the Uvalde tragedy will take place on Saturday. The funerals began on May 31, one week after the massacre.
Here are the names of the students and teachers who died at Robb Elementary School:
- Nevaeh Bravo, 10
- Jackie Cazares, 9
- Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
- Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10
- Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, 9
- Irma Garcia, 48
- Uziyah Garcia, 10
- Amerie Jo Garza, 10
- Xavier Lopez, 10
- Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
- Tess Marie Mata, 10
- Maranda Mathis, 11
- Eva Mireles, 44
- Alithia Ramirez, 10
- Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
- Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
- Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10
- Layla Salazar, 11
- Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
- Eliahna A. Torres, 10
- Rojelio Torres, 10
Many victims who were not fatally wounded were taken to local hospitals after the shooting and some were transported to San Antonio hospitals for treatment. Most of them have been able to return home, but two patients remain hospitalized at University Hospital.
One is a 10-year-old girl who is listed in fair condition and the other is the shooter’s grandmother — a 66-year-old woman who is in good condition, according to an update from University Health on Friday.
Requests for Additional Information
ProPublica and The Texas Tribune have submitted roughly 70 public information requests in reference to the May 24 tragedy, according to a court petition from State Senator Roland Gutierrez.
The senator is suing the Texas Department of Public Safety for access to records related to the massacre and says he, and others, have been unlawfully denied access to the records after putting in an open records request.
Gutierrez has said, “diligent reporting” since the tragedy occurred has helped reveal more of the truth but wants more answers.
Weeks have come and gone, and yet families who lost their children have not been told by their government the basic information about who was on site as their children bled, what tools were at their disposal to stop the gunman, and exactly why they decided to wait instead of act,” said Gutierrez.
The court petition states that various government agencies have been using an exception for law enforcement to deny the open records requests.
Access to AR-15-style rifles has been a hot political topic in recent years due to the increase in mass shootings, specifically at schools.
In Texas, 18-year-olds can purchase rifles but not handguns (21 is the minimum age for pistol purchases).
The shooter legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles at Oasis Outback just after his 18th birthday, in addition to 375 rounds of ammunition.
Abbott, and Texas leaders, have a steep history of loosening gun laws and most recently passed House Bill 1927, which allows Texans 21 and over to carry handguns — openly or concealed — without obtaining a state-issued license, so long they are not excluded from possessing a firearm by another federal or state law.
Abbott said he “absolutely” expects laws to come after the tragedy in Uvalde. “There will be laws in multiple different subject areas.”
His sentiments were made three weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court announced a major expansion of gun rights, allowing Americans to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
That ruling, handed down Thursday, came at the same time as Jazmin Cazares, the sister of Uvalde shooting victim Jacklyn Cazares, testified in front of the Texas House of Representatives on behalf of the Uvalde victims calling for passage of gun safety legislation.
Conversely, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn succeeded Thursday in passing landmark gun legislation in the Senate, according to a report from the Texas Tribune.
Cornyn said “some politicians have tried to pit the right to live in a safe community against the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. They make it seem like our country can only have one or the other.”
If passed, the bill would require, among other things, a 10-day window to allow officials time to review databases that might disqualify first-time gun buyers under the age of 21 from purchasing a firearm.