Texas Chief Says He Shouldn't Be Fired Over Uvalde

Steve McCraw says his department didn't fail in response to school shooting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 27, 2022 6:15 PM CDT
Texas Chief Says He Shouldn't Be Fired Over Uvalde
Brett Cross, uncle of Uvalde shooting victim Uziyah Garcia, calls for the resignation of Steve McCraw at a meeting on Thursday.   (Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Texas' state police chief said Thursday that his department "did not fail" Uvalde during the hesitant law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary School shooting, as a Republican congressman joined angry parents of some of the 19 children killed in the May attack in calling for him to resign. Col. Steve McCraw, head of the state's Department of Public Safety, acknowledged mistakes by officers while several Uvalde families confronted him in Austin, the AP reports, over multiple outrages: why police waited more than 70 minutes before entering the fourth-grade classroom and killing the gunman, false and shifting accounts given by authorities, and records that remain withheld more than five months later.

But McCraw defended his agency, and during a meeting of the state's Public Safety Commission, made the case that failures uncovered to date did not warrant his removal while saying he was not shirking from accountability. Uvalde families bristled and asked how DPS could not have failed, given that troopers were among the first on the scene. "I can tell you this right now, DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community," McCraw said. "Plain and simple." Republican state Rep. Tony Gonzales said for the first time after the meeting that McCraw should resign, becoming the first major figure in the GOP to call for a change at the top of Texas’ state police force. Gonzales represents the sprawling South Texas district that includes Uvalde.

McCraw said a criminal investigation into the police response to the shooting led by Texas Rangers would be wrapped up by the end of the year and turned over to prosecutors. The meeting Thursday at Texas state police headquarters was the first public update on Uvalde in weeks, though little new information was revealed. McCraw and Uvalde families addressed the state's four-member public safety commission, which oversees Texas state police. Each of the board members were appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a longtime supporter of McCraw. The board did not ask McCraw any questions about Uvalde. McCraw on Thursday did apologize for the department originally saying that the gunman had been able to enter the school because a teacher had propped open an exterior door with a rock. The employee had gone back and shut the door, but it did not lock.

(More Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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