Texas official gives update on Uvalde school massacre response review

By Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 3:04 p.m. ET, October 27, 2022
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3:04 p.m. ET, October 27, 2022

Here's what happened at today's meeting

Texas Department of Public Safety
Texas Department of Public Safety

At a Texas Department of Public Safety meeting Thursday, the state's top cop heard more harsh criticism of his agency's response to the massacre at a Uvalde elementary school, but he declined to step down.

If you're just joining us, here's what happened at today's emotional meeting:

Family members spoke first, and they didn't mince words:

  • Brett Cross, a relative of a student killed in the shooting, called directly on DPS chief Col. Steven McCraw to resign. Referencing a pledge McCraw made last month to CNN, Cross said the director should step down if he is a man of his word
  • Jesse Rizo, the uncle of another student killed in the shooting, said McCraw had "lit a match and set the town on fire” with his agency's inaction.

The DPS chief says he won't resign:

  • McCraw said he will not leave his post because his department "did not fail the community" in its response to the massacre.
  • However, he acknowledged "things we aren’t proud about," including the lengthy period of time before officers confronted the shooter. He also apologized for inaccurate statements he made about whether a teacher had propped open a door at the school.
  • Cross, the victim's family member who spoke earlier in the meeting, directly questioned McCraw again about why he would not resign. The two went back and forth briefly.

The DPS is a state police force — it helps local law enforcement in major incidents. On the day of the shooting, 91 officers with the department were on the scene.

McCraw said every officer involved in the DPS response was under evaluation, including one who stepped down while under investigation and another who is working through the formal process of getting fired.

For context: DPS, whose state police officers help local law enforcement with major incidents, had 91 officers on the scene of the May 24 massacre.

1:41 p.m. ET, October 27, 2022

Texas state senator compares Uvalde massacre to St. Louis shooting that lasted a fraction of the time

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks during the Texas Department of Public Safety meeting on Thursday, October 27. 
Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks during the Texas Department of Public Safety meeting on Thursday, October 27.  Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez compared the response to the Uvalde massacre to this week's school shooting in St. Louis, which took police only 14 minutes to bring to an end.

Gutierrez was among the speakers at today's Texas Department of Public Safety meeting.

“The average mass shooting in the United States takes 10 minutes,” he told the department's oversight panel.

“We had a mass shooting at a high school in St. Louis two days ago. That high school had all of the locked doors, it had metal detectors, it didn't stop that shooter,” Gutierrez said.

“And in 14 minutes from the time he entered ... in 14 minutes he was dead. 14 minutes.”

St. Louis police said the shooter exchanged gunfire with officers at the school and later died at the hospital. 

During Uvalde, “these children waited 77 minutes,” Gutierrez continued. “Children trapped in a classroom had the courage to seek help by calling 911 over and over again. Law enforcement knew there were kids inside.”

“In that golden hour more lives are lost,” he said.

“No help arrived. We will never know how many children could have been saved,” the lawmaker continued.

Nineteen students and two teachers were killed during the May 24 shooting in Uvalde. In St. Louis Monday, two people were killed and several others injured.

11:39 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

The meeting went to a brief recess and has now moved to other department issues

Today's meeting of the Texas Department of Public Safety, where the agency delivered a public update on the Uvalde school shooting response, has returned from a brief recess and moved to other topics facing the agency.

Family members of victims and other community members spoke passionately before Texas DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw made remarks. He then invited attendees to respond.

After a 15-minute recess, the department started addressing other issues on the meeting agenda.

11:34 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

DPS director says he should've apologized for releasing false information about teacher who closed school door

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said he should've apologized about statements he made following the Uvalde school shooting about a teacher propping open a door.

McCraw said "obviously I should’ve apologized a lot sooner” after saying a teacher had propped the door to Robb Elementary open just before the gunman entered, McCraw told the Public Safety Commission meeting on Thursday.

“I did say the teacher pushed the rock in the door. I said that on that Friday, and didn't correct it until the next week. At the time, that’s exactly the information that we had, which was wrong, and I take responsibility for it,” McCraw said. 

“When we found out about it, we certainly corrected it on the record,” he added.

“This teacher, yes, she did prop open the door with a rock, but she did go back and she made a 911 call too, as well, and she did go back to that door and she did knock the rock outside of the door and close it,” the DPS director said. “Unfortunately, the door was unlocked. And that matters, because if you will look at this in terms of the totality of this thing. There's multiple points of failure.”

11:24 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

Family member and local politician respond to DPS head's statement

Brett Cross, a relative of a student killed in the Uvalde school massacre, reiterated to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw that he thinks McCraw should step down over the response to the shooting.

"If you are a man of your word, then you would retire," Cross said after McCraw made a statement.

"You can get irritated all you want, I lost my damn son. Your anger is not going to outmatch mine, man," added Cross, the uncle of Uziyah Garcia. He has said he helped raise Garcia and considered him a son.

McCraw said he is not angry, but he is "absolutely devastated" with what happened in the community of Uvalde.

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez then said a report released after the massacre was "chock full of lies." McCraw countered that the ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) report was not produced by DPS.

McCraw said the response was an "abject failure, period."

11:11 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

DPS chief says one of his officers has resigned and another is in the process of being fired

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw said every officer from his department involved in the Uvalde massacre response is under evaluation, including one who has resigned and another who will soon be fired.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that the Department of Public Safety is without fault," McCraw said.

"We're going to evaluate every officer," he added.

McCraw, the state's top cop, said one officer already resigned while under investigation and is not eligible to return to the department. Another person is "under the termination process right now," according to the DPS chief.

"There's other officers to look at," McCraw continued. "And we'll continue to look at them."

CNN previously reported that two DPS officers who were on scene at Robb Elementary were suspended with pay and referred for formal investigation by the inspector general, and three more were also to be investigated.

In his comments at Thursday's meeting, McCraw did not specify further which officers he was referring to.

2:07 p.m. ET, October 27, 2022

DPS chief said the department "did not fail" Uvalde during massacre

DPS director Steven McCraw attends a meeting on Thursday, October 27. 
DPS director Steven McCraw attends a meeting on Thursday, October 27.  Matthew J. Friedman

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said DPS "did not fail the community" during the response to the Uvalde school shooting in May.

"If DPS as an institution failed the families, failed the school or failed the community of Uvalde, then absolutely, I need to go. But I can tell you this right now, DPS as an institution, ok, right now, did not fail the community, plain and simple," McCraw said.

While admitting "there are things we aren't proud about," he said there were officers inside the school within minutes of the shooting. He said the threat of the shooter should've been neutralized "within 10 minutes."

DPS is the state body that helps local law enforcement in major incidents.

There will be a peer review about the department's actions, McCraw added.

10:49 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

Col. Steven McCraw is now addressing the commission

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw, Texas' top cop, has begun speaking after hearing from emotional family members of victims in the Uvalde massacre.

His remarks are ongoing.

10:44 a.m. ET, October 27, 2022

Uvalde victim's relative to head of DPS: "You basically lit a match and set the town on fire"

Jesse Rizo, an uncle of Jacklyn "Jackie" Cazares, one of the students killed in the Robb Elementary shooting, said the cycle of pain continues for families.

“We may look strong, we may sound strong, but inside we are falling apart," he said.

"May 24 was our 9/11 in Uvalde," he added.

He accused the state Department of Public Safety of spreading misinformation during the beginning of the Uvalde investigation.

"You basically lit a match and set the town on fire," he said, addressing Col. Steven McCraw and telling him to resign.