Uvalde city officials were confronted by families angry over the delayed disclosure of information on the elementary school mass shooting that took place late last month.
During a meeting of the Uvalde city council on Thursday, an emotional crowd castigated city leaders over the slow release of details surrounding the May 24 school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Local police have been heavily criticized for their response to the shooting. Now, families in the small Texas community are turning their ire to what they say is a lack of transparency.
After Uvalde police came under scrutiny for their delayed response and shifting explanations, the Texas Department of Public Safety and a state legislative panel have opened investigations. However, the city has resisted releasing records and the legislative probe has held closed-door meetings, despite pledges from Texas Governor Greg Abbott for “transparency.”
“We have reached the point where we don’t believe in anything that anybody says,” a community member said at the meeting. “Everybody in this room has been lied to more than once.”
Other members of the crowd said the secrecy around the investigation was shielding the local police from accountability while leaving grieving families with an incomplete picture of the shooting.
“What if it was your kid?” another community member said angrily to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin at the meeting. “You can’t say nothing. Nobody can… So do your part for us. If you can’t say something, do something.”
McLaughlin attempted to deflect the crowd’s anger, saying he understood their frustrations and that the city wasn’t trying to hide anything. He held up letters from the Department of Public Safety and the local district attorney that he said had the city’s hands tied.
“And if we did have something and we released then we would be subject to individual criminal charges,” he said.
McLaughlin earlier pledged transparency and even suggested this month he would sue the state Department of Public Safety to compel the release of information, reports CBS affiliate KENS 5. He told the station the state’s governor or attorney general could order the district attorney to release document.
“It’s either gotta come from the governor or the attorney general, and I’m not getting answers from either one,” McLaughlin told the station.
During the meeting, Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, asked state leaders to come to Uvalde and share details of the investigation with the community, reports the Texas Tribune.
“Show your face. Answer our questions, now,” she said as she faced TV news cameras, according to the news outlet.
The meeting was also notable because of the absence of Pete Arredondo, who was sworn in as a member of the city council after the shooting, reports ABC affiliate KSAT-TV.
Arredondo, chief of police for the school district, was placed on leave from the position after facing withering criticism in response to the shooting. The station reports that it’s his third no-show and further absences could result in a special election to vote him out.
Newsweek reached out to Abbott’s office, the state Department of Public Safety and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.