The mayor of the Texas city of Uvalde is refuting a new assessment of the law enforcement response to the massacre at Robb Elementary School, saying the report “does not give a complete and accurate account of what happened.”
Mayor Don McLaughlin on Thursday took issue with the first part of a report by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center, which said an Uvalde police officer with a rifle spotted the gunman outside the school, but a supervisor either did not hear him or responded too late when asked for permission to fire.
“No Uvalde police department officer saw the shooter on May 24 prior to him entering the school,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “No Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman.”
The mayor told CNN on Friday evening that he spoke with the police chief about the report, and was told the officer, through a representative, denied he ever sighted the gunman.
The gunman fatally shot 19 young students and two teachers inside a classroom before authorities eventually breached the door more than an hour later.
The pain surrounding the tragedy has been compounded by finger-pointing and blame-shifting from the various agencies investigating the school shooting – one of the deadliest in US history – and its aftermath.
On Friday, the chairman of the Texas House Investigative Committee looking into the shooting, Dustin Burrows, tweeted the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) had denied a committee request to include in its report a 77-minute video of the hallway outside the school classroom before it was breached.
Burrows said DPS cited Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell-Busbee’s objection to the video’s release.
The footage does not show the victims nor the shooting, according to Burrows.
CNN has reached out to Mitchell-Busbee for comment.
“DPS believes that the video is likely to bring clarity to the public regarding the tragic events in Uvalde,” DPS said in its response to the request.
“We do not believe its public release would harm our investigative efforts. In fact, releasing this video would assist us in providing as much transparency as possible to the public without interfering with the investigation in the manner that an immediate public release of all evidence would.”
But the agency said Mitchell-Busbee “objected to releasing the video and has instructed us not to do so.”
“As the individual with authority to consider whether any criminal prosecution should result from the events in Uvalde, we are guided by her professional judgment regarding the potential impact of releasing the video,” DPS said.
McLaughlin said city officials overwhelmingly support the release of all video from that day at Robb Elementary School, according to a media release, and agree they will bring clarity.
Report cites deadly missed opportunities and mistakes
Pete Blair, executive director of ALERRT, defended the report in a statement, saying the source for each item in its timeline is clearly shown in the document.
Blair said the information about the officer who possibly had a shot at the gunman was based on the officer’s statements to DPS.
Citing the report, Blair added, “Ultimately, the decision to use deadly force always lies with the officer who will use the force. If the officer was not confident that he could both hit his target and of his backdrop if he missed, he should not have fired.”
McLaughlin said an Uvalde officer saw someone outside “but was unsure of who he saw and observed children in the area as well.”
“Ultimately, it was a coach with children on the playground, not the shooter,” the mayor said.
McLaughlin said, contrary to the report and a DPS timeline, troopers were at the school door about three minutes after the shooter entered and dozens more at the time of the breach.
Blair said the mayor’s statements about DPS troopers “may or may not be accurate” but “not relevant to our review.”
The mayor called “the premature release of piecemeal information” about the investigation a “disservice” to the victims’ families and vowed to release all city records once reviews are complete.
The ALERRT assessment, released Wednesday, was created using school video, third-party video, body cameras, radio logs, verbal testimony from officers and statements from investigators.
ALERRT said the document should not be taken as a “definitive or final report as all investigatory options have not been exhausted.”
In a statement, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the report corroborates earlier testimony from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw and added the assessment was “very difficult for me to read.”
There will also be reports from the FBI, the Texas Rangers and the District Attorney in the “coming weeks and months,” Patrick said.
Arredondo asked for city council leave
Pete Arredondo, the embattled Uvalde school district police chief, asked for temporary leave from the Uvalde City Council to “focus on addressing school matters related to the tragedy” about two weeks before resigning, according to a copy of the email request he made with the city, which CNN obtained through an information request.
Arredondo resigned from his city council post on July 2, after the city council voted unanimously to deny him the request for leave and he missed two consecutive city council meetings.
“This request is made in an effort to reduce any unnecessary interruptions during council meetings aimed at addressing agenda items. This temp(o)rary leave will allow me the opportunity to focus on addressing school matters related to the tragedy that occurred in our community on May 24th,” Arredondo wrote in the email, dated June 21.
At the time Arredondo emailed the leave request, he planned to continue serving in his post, the document shows.
CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.