Saying he was frustrated by a consistent lack of information from state officials, Uvalde's mayor lashed out during and after a City Council meeting Tuesday night, declaring that "the gloves are off" shortly after state senators were given an in-depth report on last month's school shooting.
Mayor Don McLaughlin said he and other local officials have been told to keep quiet about the shooting and the law enforcement response while multiple investigations continue, which is why it was difficult to watch Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, spend several hours briefing senators during a public hearing at the Capitol.
"They can go to Austin and have public deals to talk about it ... and not share a damn thing with this city or anybody in this community, and that's wrong. That's totally wrong," McLaughlin said.
The mayor also accused McCraw of presenting a biased picture of the shooting by failing to acknowledge that 14 DPS officers were in the school hallway while the gunman was barricaded in a classroom for more than an hour.
McCraw said local police should have confronted the gunman when they arrived on the scene. Instead, the incident commander, identified by McCraw as Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, "decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children" and held back law enforcement from breaching the classroom and killing the gunman. Nineteen fourth graders and their two teachers were killed.
"What kind of farce do you have in Austin today?" McLaughlin said. "We had the Bozo the Clown show in the Senate today with, you know, McCraw parading out there and giving answers that they still don't have the facts to."
McLaughlin also criticized the governor's office for ignoring repeated requests for information about the shooting.
The day after the May 24 attack at Robb Elementary School, McLaughlin said, he and County Judge Bill Mitchell asked the Texas Rangers, a division of the DPS, for daily briefings.
Although an agency official agreed, "to this day we have not received one briefing from the Rangers, or DPS, or anybody," McLaughlin told Uvalde residents at the meeting. "No one, so we're just in the dark just like you are, and we're tired of it."
"Why do you think I invited the Justice Department to come in here for? The DPS, their story's changed four times in four days. Do you think I have any confidence there, that we're going to get a true story? I don't," McLaughlin said. "That's why I invited the Justice Department here, with state officials and federal officials asking me not to."
DPS officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Several Uvalde residents attended the meeting to oppose a request for a leave of absence from Arredondo, who was recently elected to the City Council.
Arredondo did not attend the meeting or a previous emergency session held shortly after the shooting. A unanimous council declined to grant the leave of absence, meaning that if Arredondo misses the next two meetings, the council can remove him for abandoning his office.
"We heard our citizens tonight, loud and clear," McLaughlin said. "If he misses his three meetings, I'm sure Pete will go. ... I'll vote yes" to remove him.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Uvalde mayor says 'gloves are off' after Texas DPS report of shooting