Mayor of Uvalde fears that the investigation of the school shooting will be covered up

Mayor Uvalde McLaughlin

Uvalde, Texas () — Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told he has lost faith in Texas leaders investigating how law enforcement responded to the elementary school shooting in his town that killed 19 children and of adults.

“I don’t trust DPS 100% because I think there’s a cover-up,” he said of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the lead agency tasked with identifying what led to well-armed officers waiting outside a classroom for more than an hour before facing the attacker.

“McGraw is covering up maybe for his agencies,” McLaughlin continued in his strongest attack yet on Colonel Steven McCraw, the DPS director.

McCraw told the Texas Senate that the police response was a “regrettable failure” and blamed school police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo solely.

But McLaughlin told Tuesday that he didn’t feel the full story of the May 24 massacre was coming out, in part because the Texas DPS was not being transparent.

“All the agencies in that hallway are going to have to share the blame,” he said. Staff from multiple law enforcement agencies gathered inside and outside the school before the attacker was confronted and killed.

McLaughlin said in an interview, “Right now, I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.”

And while he said he trusted DPS individuals serving his community, he no longer believed in higher-ups.

has contacted DPS for comment and has yet to hear back.

McLaughlin said he hadn’t had a briefing “from anyone” since the day after the shooting, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others had traveled to Uvalde to be briefed on what had happened.

Still, he said, the key events in the timeline didn’t line up, a timeline that has already been massively changed from the hours after the attack when law enforcement was praised by Abbott and others.

“I lost confidence because the DPS narrative changed so many times and when we asked questions, we weren’t getting answers.”

McLaughlin asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the law enforcement response, and that work has already begun.

He repeatedly said his goal was simply to get the truth out for the families of the two teachers and the 19 children, ages 9 to 11, who were shot and killed that day.

And he asked that Abbott return to Uvalde to speak with grieving relatives.

“These families want to talk to the governor and he needs to come see them,” he said, adding that he will write to Abbott to make the request and reaffirm his concerns about the investigation.

has contacted Abbott’s office for comment and has not received a response.

McLaughlin was with Abbott, US Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and other officials as DPS gave its first summary of what had happened before Abbott led a news conference.

He said Arredondo, the school police chief who was later blamed for the inaction, was also there, standing against a wall. He did not speak and no one asked him a question, the mayor said.

McLaughlin, far left, yells as Beto O’Rourke interrupts a news conference the day after the Robb Elementary School massacre.

McLaughlin first came to national attention at the initial news conference after the shooting when he yelled insults at Beto O’Rourke as the former presidential and senate candidate, now running for governor, attempted to confront Abbott. .

He said he didn’t regret it because there were grieving families in the audience.

“That was not the place to go up and start screaming. That made me angry because it was not the place or the time,” he said.
McLaughlin said he was opposed to politics from either side interfering in a situation where families were still waiting for answers.

He denounced that everything is divided according to the political lines of the parties and wished that some debates could be held without taking into account if it is something Republican or Democratic. He said he was in favor of raising the age at which an assault rifle can be purchased from 18 to 21, as well as improving background checks for younger buyers. He said that he had bought an assault rifle when he thought they would be banned, but that he had never used it.

McLaughlin himself has been questioned about his degree of transparency.

McLaughlin said he had decided to have Arredondo take over his closed-door City Council seat, which he had won before the shooting, because he didn’t want a fancy ceremony so soon after so many children had died. Arredondo has already resigned from that position and is on administrative leave from his work.


Family photos show six of those killed at Robb Elementary School. Top row, from left to right: Xavier López, Eva Mireles, and José Flores Jr. Bottom row, from left to right: Uziyah García, Amerie Jo Garza, and Lexi Rubio.

For now, McLaughlin is thinking about how students will react during the new school year that starts next month.

Uvalde is close to the border with Mexico, and he said there are frequent school closures while immigration and other law enforcement operations take place.

“How are you going to feel on August 15 when we start school and have these chases going through town?” he asked.

“How are these families going to feel? How are these kids going to feel? How are these parents going to feel?”

McLaughlin, whose term as mayor ends in 2024, said it was the families of those who didn’t come home from Robb Elementary that are his focus right now.

“I want these families to have some closure. Nothing is going to heal the pain that they have, it’s never going to heal that pain, but they need to know what happened and they need to know the truth.”

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