UVALDE, Texas – Eighteen weeks after a gunman entered Robb Elementary School and killed 19 students and two teachers inside a classroom, parents said they’re done asking the Uvalde CISD to take action against its officers, they’re demanding it.
Brett and Nikki Cross — guardians of one of the victims, Uziyah Garcia — arrived at the Uvalde CISD headquarters before sunrise on Tuesday and blocked the entrance. They said they’re not going to move until Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell suspends the district officers who stood in the hallway for 77 minutes during the massacre.
“Since the shooting took place we’ve been to every school board meeting begging, pleading, crying and it did absolutely nothing. We’re 18 weeks, and as of today, still absolutely nothing,” Nikki said.
“We’re not begging and pleading anymore. We’re demanding. ‘Do your d*** job and suspend these officers,’ pending an investigation, and then we can go from there,” Brett added.
Brett Cross said they’ve been at every single board meeting, but their concerns have been ignored.
“When we go to the school board meetings, they’re the ones that wand us down and everything like that. These same people that sat outside and listened to our children scream, and nothing,” Brett Cross said. “We’re done asking. We’re done begging. I’m demanding.”
In a Facebook Live video posted to Nikki Cross’ profile, Harrell is seen and heard talking with the couple Tuesday morning.
“We will begin an investigation,” Harrell told them.
“When?” Brett Cross demanded.
Harrell said at an August school board meeting that James McLaughlin has been tapped to audit and evaluate UCISD police. McLaughlin will be on district campuses conducting that audit on Thursday and Friday, according to Harrell. The Crosses and other families have said that the officers should be suspended until that investigation is complete, not the other way around.
In a Facebook Live video, Harrell is seen trying to convince the couple to go inside his office and talk about it. When they refuse, Harrell calls Jesse Prado, the former Austin Police Department who was hired by the city to conduct an independent internal investigation into the officers’ actions that day.
On speaker phone, Prado can be heard explaining that his investigation is going to take time.
“I’d rather go at my own pace and do this in the accurate way than to hurry up and miss something,” Prado told Brett and Nikki Cross.
“It’s been somewhat of a struggle to get the information that I need from the district attorney, but DPS and Border Patrol are cooperating with me,” Prado said.
Brett Cross asked if Harrell could suspend the officers before the investigation was completed, to which Prado responded that his job is to investigate, not punish, and a suspension would not affect that process.
“You are the boss. Suspend them until that investigation is done,” Brett Cross told Harrell.
The phone call did not bring the resolution Brett and Nikki Cross were looking for. So, they said they will remain at their post until it does.
As the day heated up, so did the protesters’ anger toward district employees. Facebook videos show protesters yelling and cursing at employees and DPS Troopers who were called to the scene for security.
“It’s been hard. It’s been exhausting. We’ve had no time for grief because of these battles right here,” Nikki Cross said. “I should be just at home, but I can’t.”
Families have been outside of the @Uvalde_CISD building since before 7 am. They’re not leaving until Dr Harrell takes action against the UCISD PD officers who were at Robb 18 weeks ago when their children were killed https://t.co/I7AypBoVsN— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) September 27, 2022
The Cazares family stood with the Crosses. Gloria Cazares, Jackie Cazares’ mom, made the district officials aware when their protest hit the 77-minute mark.
”Seventy-seven minutes, so just as long as you guys... That’s how long our kids were there,” Cazares said.
According to the Crosses, DPS officers escorted Harrell and other district officials out of the building around 11:30 a.m.
When KSAT 12 reporter Leigh Waldman arrived and knocked on the building door at 3:45 p.m., there was no answer, despite the advertised business hours being listed between 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Shortly thereafter, district maintenance workers placed signs restricting access to the building and parking.
“All I know is they were dropped off to us, and we were told to put them up,” said Rodney Harrison, director of maintenance for UCISD.
Angelita Rodriguez and her daughter, Dahlia, drove “pink slips” from San Antonio to stand with parents as they protested.
”I left it blank -- the ‘to,’ Because who would y’all want to give it to first?” Rodriguez asked Brett.
“I would have to give it to the other parents since their kids’ names are on here, but for me, personally, it would be Hal Harrell because he ain’t doing nothing,” he answered.
Brett has no plans to leave, not even to sleep, and other parents are staying by his side.
“I am not leaving this spot until they suspend them,” Brett said.