Uvalde Families Confront Mayor: 'Everybody in This Room Has Been Lied To'

Uvalde city officials were confronted by families angry over the delayed disclosure of information on the elementary school mass shooting that took place late last month.

During a meeting of the Uvalde city council on Thursday, an emotional crowd castigated city leaders over the slow release of details surrounding the May 24 school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Local police have been heavily criticized for their response to the shooting. Now, families in the small Texas community are turning their ire to what they say is a lack of transparency.

After Uvalde police came under scrutiny for their delayed response and shifting explanations, the Texas Department of Public Safety and a state legislative panel have opened investigations. However, the city has resisted releasing records and the legislative probe has held closed-door meetings, despite pledges from Texas Governor Greg Abbott for "transparency."

"We have reached the point where we don't believe in anything that anybody says," a community member said at the meeting. "Everybody in this room has been lied to more than once."

Uvalde Shooting Memorial
The Uvalde city council on Thursday was confronted by families angry over the lack of transparency into the investigation of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24. Above, a memorial to the victims of the shooting is seen in Uvalde, Texas, on June 30, 2022. CHANDAN KHANNA/Getty Images

Other members of the crowd said the secrecy around the investigation was shielding the local police from accountability while leaving grieving families with an incomplete picture of the shooting.

"What if it was your kid?" another community member said angrily to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin at the meeting. "You can't say nothing. Nobody can... So do your part for us. If you can't say something, do something."

McLaughlin attempted to deflect the crowd's anger, saying he understood their frustrations and that the city wasn't trying to hide anything. He held up letters from the Department of Public Safety and the local district attorney that he said had the city's hands tied.

"And if we did have something and we released then we would be subject to individual criminal charges," he said.

McLaughlin earlier pledged transparency and even suggested this month he would sue the state Department of Public Safety to compel the release of information, reports CBS affiliate KENS 5. He told the station the state's governor or attorney general could order the district attorney to release document.

"It's either gotta come from the governor or the attorney general, and I'm not getting answers from either one," McLaughlin told the station.

Ericka Miller, press secretary for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told Newsweek in an email that its ongoing investigation was requested by Christina Mitchell Busbee, the district attorney for Uvalde County.

"As this is still very much an active and ongoing investigation, it is appropriate at this stage to refer all questions and interview requests to the DA's Office," Miller said.

She provided Newsweek with a summary of state DPS Director Steven McCraw's testimony last week before a special state Senate committee, in which he gave the preliminary findings of the investigation. She also included a link to materials he used in his testimony.

The summary provided a timeline of the shooting and other details, such as how the shooter used his grandmother's debit card to purchase ammunition and other items.

During Thursday's meeting of the Uvalde city council, Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, asked state leaders to come to the community and share details of the investigation, reports The Texas Tribune.

"Show your face. Answer our questions, now," she said as she faced TV news cameras, according to the news outlet.

The meeting was also notable because of the absence of Pete Arredondo, who was sworn in as a member of the city council after the shooting, reports ABC affiliate KSAT-TV.

Arredondo, chief of police for the school district, was placed on leave from the position after facing withering criticism in response to the shooting. The station reports that it's his third no-show and further absences could result in a special election to vote him out.

Newsweek reached out to Abbott's office and the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Update 07/01/22, 4:50 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.