Texas DPS director testifies before Uvalde mass shooting grand jury

The grand jury is investigating whether law enforcement officers should face criminal charges for failed response to Robb Elementary School shooting

Julia Reinstein
Wednesday 28 February 2024 23:02 GMT
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Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifies at a Texas Senate hearing at the state capitol on 21 June 2022
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifies at a Texas Senate hearing at the state capitol on 21 June 2022 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testified before a Uvalde grand jury as part of an investigation into the failed police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting.

The grand jury, which was formed in January, is working to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against law enforcement officers for their role in the tragedy.

On 24 May 2022, a shooter walked into the Uvalde elementary school and killed 19 children and two adults. Police arrived on the scene within three minutes, but took more than an hour to confront the shooter.

A Department of Justice report released in January condemned the police response as a “failure.” Officers “demonstrated no urgency,” and “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” may have allowed more victims to die than otherwise would have, it stated.

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022 — and the response by officials in the hours and days after — was a failure. As a consequence of failed leadership, training, and policies, 33 students and three of their teachers — many of whom had been shot — were trapped in a room with an active shooter for over an hour as law enforcement officials remained outside.”

Reggie Daniels pays his respects a memorial at Robb Elementary School, 9 June 2022, in Uvalde, Texas
Reggie Daniels pays his respects a memorial at Robb Elementary School, 9 June 2022, in Uvalde, Texas (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

On Wednesday morning, Mr McCraw flew into Uvalde to appear before the grand jury, KSAT reported.

Details of his testimony are not known, as grand jury proceedings in Texas are conducted in secret.

In the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting, Mr McCraw blamed local police officers for the “abject failure” of a response and vowed to resign if he or any of his state officers were found to have “any culpability” for the botched response, theTexas Tribune reported.

But he later walked back that promise, even as calls for his resignation — particularly from victims’ families — reached a fever pitch.

“If DPS as an institution — as an institution — failed the families, failed the school or failed the community of Uvalde, then absolutely I need to go,” he said. “But I can tell you this right now: DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community — plain and simple.”

In the DOJ report last month, DPS — and Mr McCraw himself — did not escape blame for their role in the shooting response.

Nearly 400 police officers responded to the shooting, 91 of which were from DPS.

The department has faced continued criticism for its actions in the aftermath of the tragedy. More than a dozen news outlets have sued DPS for refusing to release public records related to the shooting.

DPS conducted its own investigation into seven of the officers who responded to the shooting, ultimately firing two of them, with a third reportedly resigning before the investigation was completed.

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