UVALDE, Texas — In the three weeks since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, grieving families who buried their loved ones still have no definitive answers as to everything that happened and why law enforcement officers at the scene responded the way they did.
The three-week mark of the deadliest mass school shooting in Texas has been filled with conflicting details and changing official accounts. From the get-go, even Gov. Greg Abbott was getting bad information.
“I was misled. I am livid about what happened,” Abbott said at a news conference three days after the shooting.
The inconsistencies began with a shifting narrative of what occurred outside the school with shooter Salvador Ramos.
“There was a brave Consolidated Independent School District resource officer that approached him, engaged him,” Col. Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said a day after the shooting.
The following morning, DPS walked that statement back.
“Not accurate,” said Victor Escalon, a regional director with the agency. “He was not confronted by anybody to clear the record on that.”
Then, there was how the gunman got in.
McCraw initially told reporters that a school back door “was propped open,” but later a DPS spokesman backtracked, telling the Associated Press a teacher removed the rock that had popped open the door and it closed behind her. But the door didn’t lock.
Another shifting narrative involved the amount of time the shooter was inside the school.
“It’s going to within, like 40 minutes or something, within an hour,” Col. McCraw said a day after the shooting.
But DPS released a revised timeline two days later, revealing a total of 77 minutes elapsed from the shooter entering the school until a tactical team stormed a classroom door and shot the gunman dead.
Why did law enforcement wait so long? That, too, included competing narratives.
“The on-scene commander at the time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” McCraw said three days after the shooting.
McCraw was referring to Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo. After largely staying silent for more than two weeks after the shooting, Arredondo on June 9 told The Texas Tribune that “he never considered himself the scene’s incident commander” and “didn’t issue any orders” to stand down.
All those issues are now the focus of multiple investigations by the Texas Rangers, the Uvalde County District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice and the Texas House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting.
“There has been a lot of misinformation or half-information that has gotten out,” Committee Chair Dustin Burrows said last week.
On Tuesday, an initial $85,000 budget was approved by the House Administration Committee to investigate the shooting. The three-member panel will travel to Uvalde, to continue hearings Thursday and Friday with witness testimony in executive session behind closed doors. They pledged to find the facts for victims’ families, who deserve them.