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Texas House launches independent probe into Uvalde school shooting

Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan said it’s “an outrage” that there’s still not a clear picture of exactly what happened at Robb Elementary School, where 21 people were killed.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said Friday he’s forming a committee to independently investigate the school shooting in Uvalde.

“The fact we still do not have an accurate picture of what exactly happened in Uvalde is an outrage,” Phelan said in a news release.

On May 24, a gunman entered Robb Elementary in Uvalde and killed 19 children and two teachers. It was the country’s worst school shooting since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

Many details of the police response have been either walked back by officials, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, or altered. That includes how long it took law enforcement officers to confront the shooter.

“Every day, we receive new information that conflicts with previous reports, making it not only difficult for authorities to figure out next steps, but for the grieving families of the victims to receive closure,” Phelan said Friday.

He has enlisted Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, Rep. Justin Moody, D-El Paso, and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, also a Republican, to investigate the shooting and the police response.

All of them are attorneys, and “possess decades of experience in civil and criminal litigation matters – skill sets I believe make them best equipped to meet the objectives of this committee and its investigation,” Phelan said.

The trio will have the power to issue subpoenas and conduct depositions. They have been tasked with collecting evidence from law enforcement and reporting their findings back to the Texas House of Representatives.

Status of investigation

The Texas DPS’s last update — made last week — said that it took officers more than 70 minutes to kill the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

But it’s unclear why it took officers so long. Steve McCraw, the director of DPS, placed the blame last week on Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, the incident commander at the school that day. Arredondo is said to have prevented officers from going inside the classroom where the shooter was.

At this point, the status of the investigation being conducted by DPS is unclear.

Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, told Texas Public Radio on Friday that Texas DPS was no longer in charge of the investigation into the mass shooting.

Gutierrez said the investigation was taken over by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Busbee.

“The district attorney has told the DPS that they are not to issue any more reports and that the investigation is being taken over by her office,” Gutierrez said. “That said, I’m not really interested in criminality. I’m interested in the procedural systemic human failures that occurred by law enforcement in that hallway.”

Copyright 2022 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.