uvalde flowers on capitol steps

Austin residents placed flowers in front of the Texas Capitol on Wednesday in honor of the 19 students and two teachers murdered in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school on Tuesday.

AUSTIN — Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, is suing the Texas Department of Public Safety over the agency’s denial of information about the mass shooting last month, his office announced Wednesday. 

“In the wake of this massacre, the state of Texas has completely failed to provide the community of Uvalde with truthful answers,” Gutierrez, a Democrat, said in the statement. “Weeks have come and gone, and yet families who lost their children have not been told by their government the basic information about who was on site as their children bled, what tools were at their disposal to stop the gunman, and exactly why they decided to wait instead of act. 

The lawsuit comes a day after DPS officials provided new details about what happened on May 24, when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in two elementary school classrooms and killed 21 people.

On Tuesday, DPS Director Steve McCraw, testifying before the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans, called the local law enforcement response a "complete failure,” adding that the gunman could have been taken down in three minutes. Instead, it took officers 77 minutes to breach the classroom door and kill the shooter.

McCraw also discounted previous claims made by Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was the on-scene commander during the tragedy.

For example, Arredondo said the door to the classroom was locked and he was awaiting keys to open the door. McCraw said it was impossible to lock the door from the inside. In fact, not only was the door unlocked but responding law enforcement never bothered to check to see if the door was locked.

Arredondo also said he was awaiting ballistic shields and rifles, as the officers were outgunned. McCraw said active shooter response training directs officers to immediately take action, regardless of available safety equipment. Arredondo, who did not testify before the committee, has not publicly responded to claims made by McCraw.

These revelations were the latest in a series of conflicting statements from local and state officials.

Open record requests have been denied or sent to the Texas Attorney General’s Office in search of a ruling that would prevent their release. 

Gutierrez said he personally sent open record requests to DPS on May 31, seeking several categories of information. He said he has not received a response despite legal requirements that instruct departments to release information within ten business days or ask for an exemption from the AG’s office. Gutierrez said DPS has not sought an AG opinion.

“From the very start, the response to this awful gun tragedy has been full of misinformation and outright lies from our government,” Gutierrez said. “The community of Uvalde deserves answers now, so that we can begin to heal and make sure a massacre like this never happens again.”

In his statement, Gutierrez also called out statements made by Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, the day after the tragedy where he said the law enforcement response was quick and efficient and saved lives. Abbott later said he was “misled” but did not provide the identity of those who gave him incorrect information. 

Abbott’s office said Tuesday that it has provided all available information to the public or is working to expedite the process of releasing information.

“For over 40 agonizing minutes, students and teachers lay dying in the classrooms, hopelessly dialing 911 while law enforcement held back,” Gutierrez said. “By not taking common sense gun safety measures to prevent such atrocities as this, the state of Texas failed 21 Texans, their families and countless others touched by the tragedy.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you