UVALDE, Texas — Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin issued a statement via The Eisenberg Group (communications firm) stating that the city has been told not to release any records related to the district attorney's investigation. The statement also said the city won't release bodycam video.
The statement was issued on the same day the Texas Department of Public Safety described the police response to the school massacre as an “abject failure.”
In the statement, McLaughlin said the city wouldn't be releasing bodycam video of the incident. He also said the city and police department would evaluate the release of city records related to the investigation when it is appropriate.
"Information that has been released has not come from the City and it is apparent that what has been released is incomplete," the statement said.
He said the city isn't covering anything up and it hasn't been given any information about the investigation from the DA's office.
"There are specific legal reasons the City cannot release information at this time," the statement said.
Police officers with rifles stood and waited in a hallway for over an hour before they finally stormed the classroom and killed the Uvalde mass shooting gunman, putting an end to the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw told a state Senate hearing that the officers never checked a classroom door to see if it was locked. As it turned out, the classroom door could not be locked from the inside.
“I have great reasons to believe it was never secured,” McCraw said of the door. ”How about trying the door and seeing if it’s locked?”
The public safety chief presented a timeline that said three officers with two rifles entered the building less than three minutes after the gunman, an 18-year-old with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. Several more officers entered minutes after that.
The decision by police to hold back went against much of what law enforcement has learned in the past two decades since the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado that left 13 dead in 1999, McCraw said
“You don’t wait for a SWAT team. You have one officer, that’s enough,” he said. He also said officers did not need to wait for shields to enter the classroom. The first shield arrived less than 20 minutes after the shooter entered, according to McCraw.
Also, eight minutes after the shooter entered, an officer reported that police had a “hooligan” crowbar that they could use to break down the classroom door, McCraw said.
McLaughlin's full statement
"We understand news organizations have a job to do. For now, we will not be commenting on the investigation or reacting to every story attributed to unnamed sources or sources close to the investigation.
"The Uvalde District Attorney has requested the City not release any records related to her investigation. The Texas Occupations Code also restricts release of body cam.
"All questions relating to body cam videos and other Robb Elementary School investigative records should be directed to the Uvalde County District Attorney and the Texas Department of Public Safety/Texas Rangers.
"The premature release of anything related to the May 24 Department of Public Safety (DPS)/Texas Rangers investigation or Critical Incident Review by the Department of Justice 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. To date, the DPS and the Uvalde County District Attorney has not provided the City with any information on their investigation.
"The City wants to ensure completeness of the information provided, not a release of piecemeal or incomplete and inaccurate information. Information that has been released has not come from the City and it is apparent that what has been released is incomplete.
"The City of Uvalde and its Police Department strive for transparency every day and will evaluate release of City records related to this investigation when appropriate.
"Please be aware that the Law Firm of Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal & Zech, has an attorney client relationship with the City of Uvalde, Texas, including its officials and representatives, and are therefore prohibited under the Texas Rules governing lawyers from providing or sharing any information about the legal representation of the City with members of the public, including members of the news media.
"There is no coverup. Anyone who suggests the City of Uvalde is withholding information without legitimate and legal reasons is wrong and is spreading misinformation. There are specific legal reasons the City cannot release information at this time.
"For the past month, my number one priority is a transparent and thorough investigation to give our grieving families the answers they deserve. And, to hopefully prevent another community from having to live through a tragedy like this."