The Austin American-Statesman newspaper published Tuesday edited portions of school surveillance video showing officers retreating from gunfire in the hallway of Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, during the fatal shooting May 24.
The edited video on the newspaper’s website is just more than four minutes long and first shows teachers screaming as the gunman crosses the parking lot of Robb Elementary School after crashing a truck just outside the property. Once the gunman enters the building at 11:33 a.m., hallway surveillance cameras show him walking down the hallway uncontested with a semi-automatic rifle.
Gunfire is heard as the gunman enters a classroom, and a child on the other end of the hallway is seen running. The newspaper says it removed the sound of children’s screams from the video.
The first shots that appeared to be directed at responding officers are heard at 11:37 a.m., sending the officers immediately running down to the other end of the hallway in retreat.
Multiple officers are seen with their guns drawn in the hallway, but are not seen approaching the classroom again until 12:21 p.m., after four more rounds are heard from the gunman.
The officers do not directly confront the gunman again until 12:50 p.m., when authorities say the gunman was killed by law enforcement.
The gunman fatally shot 19 young students and two teachers.
The surveillance video comes amid lingering outrage and questions over the police response to the shooting. What officers were doing in the 77 minutes after the shooting started had been largely unclear, and some officials have questioned the trustworthiness of the various investigations working to understand what went wrong that day.
The newspaper later published a second edited video. The second video, posted to the newspaper’s YouTube channel, lasts nearly an hour-and-a-half and the audio is also edited.
The newspaper’s decision was criticized by a number of victims’ family members who said they had wanted to be able to see the footage before it went public, as state officials had promised to do this weekend.
The Statesman’s Executive Editor Manny García defended publishing the video in an online editorial but did not explain specifically why the newspaper chose not to wait for the weekend. He said publishing the video was part of an effort to keep individuals involved in the shooting response accountable.
“We are all aligned for truth,” García said.
The release came after “long and thoughtful discussion,” he wrote.
Law enforcement head ‘deeply disappointed’
At a city council meeting in Uvalde, Mayor Don McLaughlin said the newspaper’s actions were “one of the most chicken things I’ve ever seen.”
Some parts of the video should not have been released, he added.
“There’s no reason for the families to have to see that. I mean, they were going to see the video, but they didn’t need to see the gunman coming in and hear the gunshots. They don’t need to re-live that, they’ve been through enough,” he said.
The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said he was “deeply disappointed” by the leaked video ahead of the planned public release this weekend.
“I am deeply disappointed this video was released before all of the families who were impacted that day and the community of Uvalde had the opportunity to view it as part of Chairman Dustin Burrows’ plan,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a written statement. “Those most affected should have been among the first to see it.”
Last month, McCraw criticized law enforcement’s delay in action as an “abject failure,” in part citing evidence from the hallway surveillance video.
The Texas House committee investigating the school shooting had planned to release the more than an hourlong hallway surveillance footage to victims’ families on Sunday and to the public soon thereafter, state Rep. Dustin Burrows had said on Twitter.
After the video release, he wrote: “I am also disappointed the victim’s families and the Uvalde community’s requests to watch the video first, and not have certain images and audio of the violence, were not achieved.”
The intention of the committee and its professional staff was to meet with the families of the 21 victims in private in Uvalde and provide them with a hard copy of the preliminary report and a link to the video, a source close to the committee said. The committee was also planning to answer questions from the families about the findings, the source said.
A source close to the committee tells CNN that plan has not changed after the edited video was posted online.
Burrows had pushed for the release of the video to the public amid scrutiny of the police response.
“I can tell people all day long what it is I saw, the committee can tell people all day long what we saw, but it’s very different to see it for yourself, and we think that’s very important,” Burrows said.
However, he said last week he was prohibited from doing so because he signed a nondisclosure agreement with DPS. He also released a letter in which DPS said that it agrees that the video will bring “clarity” to what happened but explained that the Uvalde district attorney “has objected to releasing the video.”
CNN has requested comment from Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee on Friday and on Sunday about why she objects to the release of the video, but has not heard back.