Families of slain children in Uvalde called for the resignation of Texas’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw during a public meeting in Austin on Oct. 27.
Citing the abject failure of the department’s response to the school massacre on May 24 and the ensuing confusion caused by McCraw’s “misinformation after misinformation” during press conferences, Jesus Rizo told McCraw he needs to resign.
Rizo, the uncle of 10-year-old Jacklyn Cazares, who was killed alongside 18 other children and two teachers, said McCraw’s comments following the shooting caused ripple effects throughout Uvalde.
“Our town is ripped apart,” Rizo said. “When you arrived … you basically lit a match and you set the town on fire.”
Several key pieces of information that McCraw’s department released in the first days after the massacre turned out to be false, including that a police officer had the opportunity to shoot the gunman before he entered the school, but didn’t (the potential target was the PE coach); and that a teacher had propped open an exterior door and left it open (she had closed it and called 911).
“It’s time for you, sir, to keep your word and offer your resignation and turn in your badge, Mr. McCraw,” Rizo said.
McCraw told CNN last month that he was prepared to resign, if it was determined the department failed.
“I’ll be the first to resign, I’ll gladly resign, I’ll tender my resignation to the governor if I think there is any culpability in the Department of Public Safety. Period,” he told the news organization.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers responded to the mass shooting in Uvalde on May 24—including 91 DPS troopers and rangers. However, it was 77 minutes before a federal border unit breached the classroom and eliminated the shooter.
Another family member, Brett Cross, the guardian of Uziyah Garcia, a Robb Elementary fourth grader who was killed, also called for McCraw’s resignation.
“If you’re a man of your word, you’ll resign,” Cross said. “Our families, our community, our state has waited long enough.”
Cross accused McCraw of telling lies.
“You’re not in control of your officers, nor are you the leader this great state deserves at the helm of what was once known as one of the best law enforcement agencies. You have disgraced the state, your position, and the people,” he said.
McCraw was given the opportunity to respond and resisted the calls for his resignation, saying, “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.”
He reiterated that the law enforcement response failed and that officers will be held accountable once the investigation is complete.
McCraw said the Texas Rangers, a branch of DPS, will be finished with its investigation by the end of the year.
“I’m not going to sit here and say DPS is without fault,” he said.
McCraw is among dozens of officials who have faced mounting anger over their handling of the shooting, with a 77-page report published on July 17 by the Texas state House of Representatives blaming “systemic failures” and poor leadership for the response that possibly contributed to the death toll.
Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent District (CISD) police chief, was fired in July, two months after the shooting.
On Oct. 10, Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell announced his retirement, effective at the end of the year.
Three days earlier, the entire school district’s police department was suspended after “additional concerns with department operations” were uncovered, according to Anne Marie Espinoza, spokesperson for UCISD.
During the same week, it was discovered the CISD had hired as a school police officer a Texas state trooper who had been one of the first on scene at the shooting. The then-trooper, Crimson Elizondo, was shown on body camera footage waiting outside the school building, despite arriving within two minutes.
The school district fired Elizondo on Thursday after CNN revealed the connection.
“If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that,” Elizondo had told fellow officers after the shooting, according to the news outlet, which had obtained body camera audio.
McCraw said two state troopers have either resigned or been fired, “and there’s more to look at.”