The lack of clarity surrounding authorities’ response to the mass shooting at a South Texas elementary school could hinder efforts to prevent such massacres from happening again, a state lawmaker told CNN on Friday.
Ten days after a gunman slaughtered 19 students and their two teachers in their classrooms at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, there are still significant gaps in the information officials have released about law enforcement’s response.
“My point as a policymaker, which is the third function of my job, is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde.
“How in the world are we going to be able to do anything if we can’t figure out what happened in that building in those 40 minutes?”
The shifting police narratives, unanswered questions and the horror of knowing 21 victims were trapped with a gunman for more than an hour – despite repeated 911 calls for help from inside the classrooms – is tormenting this small Texas city.
Gutierrez has questioned whether the responding officers on scene were aware of those calls as they stood outside the classrooms. It’s also unclear whether the incident commander, who made the call for the officers not to confront the shooter immediately, was on scene as the shooting unfolded.
The frustration was palpable Friday night when Uvalde held its first board meeting following the massacre.
The main public development was that Superintendent Hal Harrell reiterated students would not be returning to Robb Elementary – after which the school board went into a lengthy closed-door session that was scheduled to involve the approval of personnel employments, assignments, suspensions and terminations.
Angela Turner, a mother of five who lost her niece in the shooting, expressed outrage. “We want answers to where the security is going to take place. This was all a joke,” she told reporters, referring to the meeting. “I’m so disappointed in our school district.”
Turner insisted that she will not send her children to school unless they feel safe, adding that her 6-year-old child told her, “I don’t want to go to school. Why? To be shot?”
“These people will not have a job if we stand together, and we do not let our kids go here,” she said as she pointed to a vacant school board podium.