Angry Uvalde Residents Demand Answers in Police Response to School Shooting, City Says It Doesn't Have Any
“Nobody’s giving us any answers, it’s been over a month, you have no idea how frustrating that is," said the sister of slain teacher Irma Garcia.
Angry relatives demanded answers about the Robb Elementary School shooting during a rancorous meeting of the Uvalde City Council Thursday, only to be told by the mayor that he has no new information more than a month after the massacre.
“Nobody’s giving us any answers, it’s been over a month, you have no idea how frustrating that is. We’re sitting here, just listening to empty words,” said the sister of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers who were killed May 24 in a rampage that took the lives of 19 children and another instructor.
Family members also demanded to know why school police chief Pete Arredondo, who is also a member of the city council, has missed a second consecutive meeting. He was to appear Thursday to answer questions from many critics of his delayed response to the gunman.
Earlier this month, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said Arredondo, who was onsite commander during the shooting, made "terrible decisions," costing valuable time during which lives may have been saved.
"The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none," McCraw said. "The officers had training, the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds, - that is how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued," he added.
“We’re not trying to hide anything from you,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said at Thursday's meeting. "We don’t have anything.”
Multiple local, state and federal agencies are investigating the horrific shooting, with the Texas Rangers leading the inquiry.
The mayor said he has not heard from Arredondo since he requested a leave of absence after the shootings and was turned down by the council. If he misses a third meeting, the council can declare his seat vacant.
Family members of the victims wept and shouted as they berated city officials for giving them no information from the investigation.
“We’re looking for some answers that nobody seems to be getting, and it’s just making Uvalde PD and everybody else look even more guilty,” said Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, one of the murdered children.
“Look at this as a dad, as a parent,” said Garza’s dad who was also at the meeting. “What if it was your kid?”
Garcia's sister, Velma Lisa Duran, also slammed the council for not disclosing plans for the upcoming school year.
“Enough is enough, this is ridiculous. It is frightening to be a teacher now. Now they wanna arm teachers. That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. You need to do something, these kids are not gonna go back to school and it’s gonna be on y’all’s hands,” she said.
“My sister was obliterated,” Duran said, sobbing. “I couldn’t hug her. I couldn’t say my last goodbye.”
The mayor has said the city plans to demolish Robb Elementary School, but some parents have decried that decision, saying the campus is still an active crime scene.
"We are not getting any answers. We are not getting any justice," one parent said at the meeting.
The mayor also said he cannot release any information because such details should come from state authorities.
"It's either gotta come from the governor or the attorney general, and I'm not getting answers from either one," he said.
A parent who broke from police custody to jump a fence and rescue her two children has complained she is being harassed by officers, her attorney said this week.
Mother Angeli Rose Gomez has publicly criticized police who held back screaming parents at the shooting scene as they begged law enforcement officers surrounding the school to do something as shots rang out from inside the campus.
“She did act in a very brave manner,” said her lawyer, Mark Di Carlo, who said he’s representing about 15 members of the Uvalde community. “I have it corroborated from at least two people that she did go into the school, she did jump the fence, she was handcuffed. I don’t believe that any officers were in that school until she went in and then they followed her in," the attorney told HuffPo this week.
Di Carlo said police have harassed Gomez by sitting outside her home in a patrol car and pulling her over for a needless traffic stop.
The city of Uvalde has denied those claims, and said its officers did not handcuff Gomez at the school shooting scene.
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