AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers want to stop another mass shooting like the one in Uvalde from ever happening again.
A special Senate committee met at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick formed the Special Committee to Protect All Texans at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott wants the committee to address five issues: school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.
Unlike the private House Investigative Committee hearings also underway Tuesday, the Senate testimony was public. Watch the hearing live below:
8:20 p.m. – Answering questions from Uvalde citizens, Mayor McLaughlin said, "I'm not covering up for anybody … I'm not the only elected official you need to be screaming at. Go to your district attorney, ask her why we're not getting answers."
On whether McCraw's statements and actions are political Mayor McLaughlin responds, "I don't know whether it's political or not. It damn well ought not be with 19 kids and two teachers involved and if it is then they ought to be tarred and feathered and run out of this state."
7:50 p.m. – Mayor of Uvalde Don McLaughlin criticized DPS Director Steve McCaw, saying, "Col. McCraw has continued to, whether you want to call it lie, leak or mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response."
"Every briefing he leaves out the number of his own officers and rangers that were on scene that day," the mayor went on to say. "Col. McCraw has an agenda and it's not to present a full report on what happened and to give factual answers to the families of this community … The gloves are off, as we know it, we will share it. We are not going to hold back anymore. They can go to Austin and have public deals and talk about it and different things and not share a damn thing with this city or anybody in this community, and that's wrong. That's totally wrong."
5:20 p.m. – Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement related to the ongoing investigation:
“All information the Office of the Governor has related to the shooting in Uvalde has already been released to the public or is in an expedited process of being released. Governor Abbott has been adamant since day one that all information relating to the tragedy at Robb Elementary School be shared with the victims’ families, the Uvalde community, and the entire state. As people are aware, the Governor immediately made available his handwritten notes from a briefing with public officials to provide greater transparency. Other public information requests received were overbroad and encompassed information unrelated to the tragedy, and that information will work its way through the usual public information process. The responsive documents concerning the tragedy in Uvalde that are the subject of the overbroad requests are being expedited for disclosure to the public.
"The Governor and his office will continue making all available information public, including the full results of the ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers and the FBI. The Governor wants all facts of this tragedy to be made public as quickly as possible and will do his part to achieve that goal.”
12:25 p.m. – McCraw says investigators have been unable to re-interview Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo. Arredondo, who is being interviewed by the House Investigative Committee Tuesday, says he is cooperating with Texas DPS.
11:26 a.m. – McCraw indicates that he believes video evidence in the Uvalde shooting case will ultimately be released. He said Texas DPS has been asked by the Uvalde district attorney not to release information for now, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
11:19 a.m. – McCraw says he doesn't believe the doors to the Robb Elementary School classrooms were locked.
"The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who placed the lives of officers before the lives of children," McCraw says.
9:41 a.m. – KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski reports that, in the strongest terms possible, McCraw has condemned the law enforcement response in Uvalde, calling it an "abject failure and antithetical to everything we have learned over the past two decades."
McCraw says teachers, not law enforcement, should be praised for their actions during the May 24 shooting. He says police had enough firepower and protection to act faster than they did. Teachers worked quickly to lock the school down and save lives, McCraw says.
According to McCraw, the gunman was "moving toward a pathway to violence" in the months leading up to the shooting and, in some ways, had "taken on the demeanor of a school shooter." McCraw urges Texans to alert law enforcement of these types of suspicious activity.
9:37 a.m. – The Texas DPS shares the reference materials that Director Steve McCraw will use in his testimony. Among them are a transcribed call between Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo and a dispatcher, a detailed timeline of the shooting and a map of the school and the gunman's route.
9 a.m. – The first public hearing of the Texas Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans begins.
8 a.m. – Texas Department of Public Safety officials arrive at the Texas State Capitol with investigation material related to the Uvalde school shooting, ahead of the start of the committee hearing at 9 a.m. Among the materials is a part of the door to the classroom to show how its locking mechanism worked.
State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), chair of the Special Committee to Protect All Texans, has said the people of Uvalde deserve transparency.
But Democratic state lawmakers are still calling on their colleagues across the aisle to do more to address gun violence. Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus renewed their calls for a special session on Monday, saying the next school year starts in 56 days and lawmakers cannot wait that long to address gun violence.
Earlier in June, Abbott requested special legislative committees meet in response to the shooting at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School, where 19 students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman.
"After all these recent mass shootings, the Legislature convenes in the regular session and makes it easier to obtain and carry weapons while still failing to adequately fund mental health care. Texas is dead last in the country for access to help, to mental health care," Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) said. "We are 56 days away from the school year starting. We must take action to ensure that another group of parents are not planning funerals instead of planning summer vacations or summer camp."
The formed committees are different from a special legislative session – which Democrats and at least a few Republicans have asked for since the Uvalde shooting.
Critics of the governor have argued that the time for committees has passed, pointing out that the Legislature also formed special committees after mass shootings in 2019 and those discussions did not prevent the Uvalde school shooting from happening.
The Texas Senate's Special Committee to Protect All Texans will have its first meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and it will be open to the public. Meanwhile, the House Investigative Committee will also have another private meeting. That committee has been meeting since the beginning of the month, investigating law enforcement's response to the Uvalde shooting.
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