“Information is starting to come to light”: media won’t let go of Uvalde’s police mistakes

Greater Uvalde Don McLaughlin announced he would “throw people under the bus” during Tuesday’s city council meeting. The city official went on to accuse Steve McCraw, the chief of the Texas state police, of selectively leaking information for political purposes. “McCraw has continued whether you want to call it, lie, leak…mislead or misrepresent information to distance its own troopers and rangers from the response,” McLaughlin said of the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is led an investigation into the shooting in Uvalde last month that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Earlier on Tuesday, McCraw testified at a state Senate hearing that the police response in Uvalde was an “abject failure” and that the police could have stopped the gunman in three minutes if the Uvalde school district police chief Peter Arredondo acted more decisively. “The only thing that kept a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-site commander who decided to put officers’ lives over children’s lives,” McCraw said. (Arredondo has claimed that he did not consider himself the person responsible and assumed that someone else had taken control of the police, according to the AP.)

The finger-pointing between authorities comes as a trickle of details about the police response has turned into a torrent, despite efforts by government officials to contain the disastrous revelations. “Public understanding of the response to the tragedy has been marred by refusals by state and local agencies to release public records, efforts by local officials to bar journalists of public meetings and the closed nature of the hearings held by state legislators,” the Texas Tribune noted Monday in a piece containing one of the most detailed accounts of what has happened at Robb Elementary School to date.

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When I spoke to the editor-in-chief of Tribune Sewell Chano the day after the shooting, for a piece on the debate over publishing graphic images of such tragedies, he said his reporters were “trying to summarize what happened” — an effort that continued nearly a month later. The Tribune’s Monday story, based on surveillance footage and transcripts from law enforcement officers, also cited reports from other news outlets — both local and national — that have helped advance Uvalde’s story and hold law enforcement officers accountable. For example, a recently The San Antonio Express-News report claimed, according to an anonymous source, that Arredondo and his team did not check the classroom doors to determine if they were unlocked. A key finding in Tribune’s story on Monday, based on that disclosure, as CJR’s Jon Allsop noted. According to Tribune, there was no security footage from inside the school showing police officers trying to open the doors to adjacent classrooms where the gunman was.

“It took a while… but the information is starting to come to light,” says CNN Shimon ProkupeczI tweeted Monday, pending McCraw’s testimony. “Local Reporters [are] access information.” Others also have marked the crucial role of journalists in the ongoing search for answers.

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