Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin has expressed concern about a potential “cover-up” surrounding the law enforcement response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.
During an interview with CNN on Tuesday, McLaughlin said he was no longer “100% percent confident” in the Texas Department of Public Safety, the lead agency tasked with probing officers’ actions amid the massacre on May 24. That afternoon, the suspected gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, marched into the primary school through an unlocked door, and barricaded himself inside a classroom, where he remained for more than an hour.
Authorities released and retracted several timelines in wake of the carnage, sowing confusion and distrust among those mourning in the close-knit Uvalde community. They also faced severe backlash for neglecting to immediately engage with the shooter and instead waiting until they could find a key to unlock the classroom door.
“I lost confidence because the narrative changed from DPS so many times and when we asked questions, we weren’t getting answers,” the mayor said.
McLaughlin specifically took aim at Col. Steven McCraw, the DPS director, who has blamed Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo for the controversial response. He wrongfully believed at the time the situation had transitioned from an active shooter to a hostage situation, McCraw said, and that children were no longer at risk — despite the panicked 911 call coming from inside the building.
“I think it’s a cover-up. McCraw is covering up for maybe his agencies or maybe he told the story he told an you know … what do they say? ‘It’s always hard when you tell a lie that you have to keep telling a lie’. I’m not saying he is lying, maybe he was misled,” McLaughlin said.
“Every agency in that hallway is gonna have to share the blame.”
McCraw has since told the Texas Senate that the police response was an “abject failure,” but McLaughlin believes there is still more information that has not yet come to light.
“At this point, I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe,” he said, adding that he has not had a briefing “from anybody” since the day after the shooting when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others had traveled to Uvalde.
McLaughlin has also requested the Department of Justice to investigate the law enforcement response. That probe is currently underway.