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Texas lawmakers put pressure on Uvalde's DA over hallway surveillance footage

An 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday.
Patricia Lim / KUT
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An 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, Republican Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, Gov. Greg Abbott and others have asked Uvalde District Attorney Christina Busbee to make the 77-minute-long video public. Busbee says no.

A key Texas lawmaker in charge of overseeing a House investigation into May 24’s mass shooting in Uvalde has pledged to release a video he says will bring clarity on the police response that day.

Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, tweeted Monday afternoon that he intends to release the 77-minute-long surveillance footage from the hallway of Robb Elementary School.

“It is my intention to show the hallway video to the people of Uvalde, regardless of any agreement,” Burrows said. “I will not release it to the public until the people of Uvalde have seen it for themselves.”

Burrow’s office said the representative plans to release it to the family of the victims first. A specific date was not provided.

The decision comes after a week of public back-and-forth between Burrows, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee.

Burrows had asked the state agency on Thursday to release the video, but a day later the department replied it was not possible, despite the shared desire to make the footage public.

“DPS believes that the video is likely to bring clarity to the public regarding the tragic events in Uvalde,” Freeman Martin, the deputy director of law enforcement operations at DPS, said.

He added the video ends prior to the breaching of the classroom Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter, had entered.

Martin told Burrows in the letter that his agency believes release of the video would not harm the current investigation. However, he said Busbee objected to making it public.

“As the individual with authority to consider whether any criminal prosecution should result from the events in Uvalde, we are guided by her professional judgment regarding the potential impact of releasing the video,” Martin said.

Busbee didn’t return The Texas Newsroom’s request for comment.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, officers inside Robb Elementary waited more than an hour after the shooting began to enter the classroom.

DPS Dir. Steven McCraw called the police response “an abject failure.”

Two teachers and 19 students were killed during the shooting. Seventeen people were injured in what has become Texas’ deadliest school shooting, and the second deadliest in the U.S. after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

DPS said the commander on scene, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, was responsible for preventing officers from breaching the classroom.

Arredondo claimed he believed the door to the classroom was locked, but DPS said that based on evidence it reviewed, the door was never locked, and no officer in the hallway even tried to open the door.

The families of the victims have asked local and state officials for more transparency.

During a hearing of his House investigatory committee Monday morning, Burrows explained the importance of making the video public. “I can tell people all day long what it is I saw — the committee can tell people all day long what we saw, but it's very different to see it for yourself,” Burrows said. “We will continue to put pressure on the situation and consider all options and make sure that video gets out for the public to view.”

Besides Burrows, the Texas House Freedom Caucus has also asked for the footage.

The group of conservative lawmakers sent a letter to Busbee on Saturday saying they were “disappointed” to hear about Busbee’s refusal.

“Since the footage will not include any audio and stops prior to the breach, you cannot credibly claim the release of this footage will impede your own investigation,” the letter reads.

Gov. Greg Abbott has also called for Busbee to make the video public.

In an interview with KTVT-TV, Abbott reportedly said “the one other thing that must be done is the release of the more than 70 minute video of exactly what happened inside the school that day with only one thing eliminated: that is any images of those who were victims.”
Copyright 2022 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán