As new details emerge that change the police narrative of what happened during the Robb Elementary School massacre last week, the school district police chief who led the law enforcement response had not responded to investigators for two days, a public safety official said Tuesday.
Uvalde school district police department chief Pete Arredondo, who was sworn in as a newly elected city council member Tuesday, did an initial interview with the Texas Rangers, which is investigating the May 24 shooting, but hasn’t responded for a follow-up interview in two days, said Travis Considine, spokesperson for Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday.
However, Arredondo said Wednesday he was “in contact” with the Department of Public Safety “every day,” when asked about the reports by CNN. The network reported Arredondo was wearing a badge and gun Wednesday, and that Arredondo said the city council swearing in was “a private thing.”
Meanwhile, state authorities now say that the teacher who police said left a door propped open minutes before the gunman entered the school and killed 19 children and two teachers had actually closed the door, though it did not lock.
Wednesday, more services were scheduled in Uvalde, with funerals planned for Jose Flores Jr., 10, and teacher Irma Garcia, 48. Garcia’s husband, Joe Garcia, 50, who died suddenly after visiting a memorial site at the school, will also be laid to rest.
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Here’s what we know.
Uvalde doctor suffers through second mass shooting
Dr. Cecilia Murillo was going about a typical Tuesday morning at the Uvalde Family Practice Association. Then the clinic received a request for any medical staff available to immediately head to the Uvalde Memorial Hospital.
Murillo said she helped treat some of the victims there who had received gunshot wounds to their limbs, and providing them with psychological first aid given the trauma they had experienced. She was also tasked with inspecting the remains of the some of the victims to look for skin and dental features that could help identify them so authorities could notify their families.
This was the second time a mass shooting had hit so close to home.
Murillo is an El Paso native. On Aug. 3, 2019, she traveled to her hometown for a family event from Lubbock. Then she heard that a 21-year-old gunman had driven to El Paso and opened fire at a Walmart, killing 23 people.
“It hurts just as equally. Each time,” she said.
— Rafael Carranza, El Paso Times
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asks state House and Senate to study school violence
Stopping short of calling the state Legislature back to Austin for a special session, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday asked House and Senate leaders to form special committees to study school safety and mass violence.
The committees, Abbott said, should focus on five topics – school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety – to make recommendations for action by the Legislature and governor’s office designed to prevent future school shootings.
“As Texans mourn the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week, we as a State must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence,” Abbott said in letters to House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the state Senate.
Democrats have been pushing Abbott to call a special session devoted to finding solutions to gun violence, particularly in schools, while Abbott and other GOP leaders have adopted a more measured approach, saying it makes sense to wait until the Texas Rangers and federal investigators complete probes into the Uvalde shooting and the police response to it.
— Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman
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Superintendent: Students, staff won’t return to Robb Elementary campus
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said Wednesday students and staff would not return to the campus of Robb Elementary school.
“We are working through plans on how to serve students on other campuses and will provide that information as soon as it is finalized,” Harrell said in a statement.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin previously told KXAS-TV he thought students shouldn’t return to the building, adding, “That building needs to be gone.” Texas Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said federal funds could be available to help with the costs of demolishing the school.
Teacher closed door gunman used to enter school, officials now say
The teacher who police said left a door propped open minutes before a gunman entered Robb Elementary School had actually closed the door, though it did not lock, state authorities now say.
State police initially said the teacher, who has not been identified, propped the door open with a rock and did not remove it before the gunman entered.
“We did verify she closed the door. The door did not lock. We know that much and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock,” Considine said Tuesday.
Officials have offered differing accounts of how the May 24 shooting unfolded, including details about officers’ interactions with the gunman and how long it took for law enforcement to enter the classrooms where he was holed up.
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— Jeanine Santucci
Amerie Jo Garza is first Uvalde shooting victim laid to rest
Amerie Jo Garza had a heart of gold. She also was named to the school honor roll. Those who knew her described her as a kind, caring, blunt, loving, sweet, sassy and funny little diva who “hated dresses.”
On Tuesday, family and friends laid her to rest. She was 10 years old.
Amerie was the first victim to be buried, starting several weeks of funerals in the South Texas city overwhelmed by sadness and pain.
From outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, sirens echoed as the funeral procession made its way to the church. Attendees arriving at the church were mostly wearing purple. It was Amerie’s favorite color.
At least two people attending the funeral were wearing green Girl Scout vests. Last week, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas awarded Garza a bronze cross medal, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a Girl Scout. The award is reserved for Girl Scouts who exhibit extraordinary heroism or have risked their life to save another person.
In a heartbreaking interview with CNN, her stepfather, Angel Garza, said that two of her friends had confirmed that during the shooting she had tried to call 911 before she was killed.
— Luz Moreno-Lozano and Niki Griswold, Austin American-Statesman
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