Uvalde Shooting Footage Secrecy Leaves Texans Decrying 'Cover Up'

As Texas officials continue to resist releasing records that could shed light on the deadly Uvalde school shooting, many Texans are alleging that a cover-up is underway.

Criticism of the law enforcement response came almost immediately after the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Since then, law enforcement officials have provided conflicting information about how it unfolded.

In the latest revelation raising questions about why law enforcement didn't confront the gunman sooner, it has been reported that officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield were inside the school much earlier than previously known.

The officers with high-powered weapons were there within 19 minutes of the gunman arriving on campus, according to materials jointly reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV.

The Robb Elementary School sign
A number of Texans have been critical of the law enforcement response to a mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, alleging a cover-up over the lack of information released. Pictured, the Robb Elementary School sign is seen covered in flowers and gifts on June 17, 2022. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The outlets reported that investigators said the information, which included surveillance footage, indicated officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they eventually did.

The report comes days after the San Antonio Express-News reported that surveillance footage from the school showed officers did not try to open the door leading to the classrooms where the gunman was located.

The details add to the mounting frustration felt by the families of the victims as officials continue to resist releasing information that could clarify much about the law enforcement response to the shooting, including body camera footage from the officers at the scene.

The Texas Tribune and ProPublica said they have submitted about 70 public information requests in the month since the shooting and that government officials have yet to provide a single record.

And Vice reported last week that the city of Uvalde and its police department are working with a private law firm to prevent the release of public records related to the shooting. Those records include body camera footage as well as photos, 911 audio recordings, emails, criminal records and more.

Some of the records could be "highly embarrassing" and involve "emotional/mental distress," the lawyers argued in a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton, the outlet reported.

Then on Monday, reporters and a parent of a victim were asked to leave Uvalde City Hall before a committee held a hearing to gather testimony from officers involved in the response to the shooting, according to videos posted on Twitter by CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. They show a fire marshal telling the reporter that they are being asked to leave because "people are intimidated."

The recent reporting and the footage posted by Prokupecz prompted many to decry the lack of transparency, and led to #UvaldeCoverUp trending on Twitter.

State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde, pointed the finger at Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "While @GovAbbott has ordered a cover up, we in the Texas Senate are siding with the families of #Uvalde," he wrote in a tweet on Monday.

He added that he would be at a public Texas Senate hearing in Austin on Tuesday to "seek answers to the questions my constituents are asking me. I hope and trust I will be allowed to speak for my community." Newsweek has reached out to Gutierrez and Abbott's spokeswoman for comment.

Attorney Sara Azari tweeted: "58 minutes of blood shed [and] massacre as officers stood idly outside the classroom. Armed and shielded. The ineptitude and cowardice alone warrants disclosure of the bodycam. Produce the goods! #UvaldeCoverUp."

Gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke was also among those calling for officials to release records. "Stop misleading us. Texans deserve to know what happened in Uvalde," he tweeted on Monday. "Tell the truth."

Newsweek has reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety for comment.