AUSTIN, Texas - Families of children murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde pushed Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steve McCraw to resign at a Public Safety Commission meeting Thursday.
Brett Cross, guardian of slain student Uziyah Garcia, pressed McCraw on a promise he made on CNN to resign if it was discovered his troopers had "any culpability" in the failed response to the massacre.
"Your officers were in [the school] within 10 minutes correct?" he asked.
McCraw said, "Yeah."
Cross continued, "Are they not representatives of your department?"
"Absolutely," McCraw stated.
"Therefore, they failed. Therefore, DPS failed. Therefore, there is culpability. Therefore, if you are a man of your word, you would retire. Are you a man of your word?" Cross asked.
"I am. Absolutely," said McCraw.
"Then resign," Cross replied.
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91 troopers were onsite at Robb Elementary on May 24 as a gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers. Despite law enforcement’s booming presence, it took more than an hour to end the massacre.
"Children trapped in a classroom had the courage to seek help by calling 9-1-1 over and over again. Law enforcement knew there were kids inside," said State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a San Antonio democrat representing Uvalde.
McCraw called law enforcement’s response to the incident an "abject failure", but has pointed fingers at others, rather than his own agency. McCraw initially accused a school staff member of propping a door open with a rock, allowing the gunman to enter. He later retracted the statement and said the woman closed the door, which did not lock. The woman received a flurry of death threats.
Parents and Gutierrez demanded McCraw apologize to her Thursday.
"You basically lit a match, and you set the town on fire," said Jesse Rizo, uncle of murdered student Jacklyn "Jackie" Cazares. "I'm here to let you know what impact the statements that were issued by you and your administration have had on our small community. Our town is divided. Our teachers feel betrayed. Some family members don't even speak to each other. We go to the grocery store, we have to look over our shoulder because you don't know who is with you or against you."
Gutierrez said he believes DPS troopers onsite at Robb Elementary waited for the federal Border Patrol Tactical Unit to respond, instead of responding themselves. He argued that "for much of the last five months, DPS has selectively leaked information in order to hide those actions."
Gutierrez highlighted that after the shooting, DPS, through a governor's office spokesperson, said the shooter was an illegal immigrant from El Salvador with a fake Texas ID.
"That was completely false," said Gutierrez.
Thursday, McCraw continued to point fingers at local law enforcement
"I don't like criticizing our local partners. Our job is to support them. Plain and simple. But my God, right is right," he said.
Despite several calls for his resignation Thursday, McCraw shirked blame.
"If DPS as an institution failed the families, failed the school or failed the community of Uvalde then absolutely I need to go. But I can tell you this right now, DPS as an institution, right now, did not fail the community. Plain and simple."
"I don’t know what the damn standard [for failure] is. I mean, at the end of the day I think that everybody in the United States and everybody in Texas can look at a video and see that every law enforcement agency that was out there…they all failed those kids that day," Gutierrez told reporters after the meeting.
Families of Robb Elementary victims also pressed McCraw to push state leaders to raise the age to purchase assault rifles to 21.
"One shooter. 91 of your officers, including other law enforcement agencies. Why didn't they go in there?" Manuel Rizo, uncle of Jacklyn "Jackie" Cazares asked McCraw.
"What is the number one weapon that is being used for mass shootings all over America? And you all know it. And we choose not to do anything about it. So, if we keep doing the same thing. Mr. McCraw and expect a different result. It's insanity."
Rizo asked McCraw, "do you not think that it's going to happen again?"
McCraw replied, "I’m afraid it is."
"It is," said Rizo.
The gunman purchased two guns in the days leading up to the massacre. He purchased one the day after his 18th birthday according to the ATF.
"We fail to raise the age to 21. The governor will not do it. Can you put pressure on him to do it? Or do you want your officers to stop somebody someday and get torn to pieces like our children did? Because that's what happened. You saw the video, right?" Rizo asked McCraw.
Thursday, after Robb Elementary families hammered Abbott’s response to the shooting, his office issued a press release announcing $400 million to assist schools with safety upgrades and $15 million "to assist in the construction of a new elementary school in Uvalde."
Abbott is currently up for re-election.
"I think it’s all coming from the top down," said Gutierrez. "Here we are over five months later with zero information in [journalists] hands or in the hands of the public and that is absolutely squarely because there is an election in a few days."
McCraw said "all officers" involved in the shooting are being evaluated. When the evaluation is complete, he said a peer review will take place.
McCraw added the "Texas Ranger part of that investigation is going to be completed within two months, by the end of the year."
Thursday, a number of politicians called for McCraw to resign. Notably, Tony Gonzales.
The San Antonio congressman whose district encompasses Uvalde is the first prominent GOP member to push for McCraw’s resignation. Gilberto Hinojosa, head of the Texas Democratic Party also called for McCraw to resign.