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National News

Uvalde officials wanted a more favorable portrayal of police response to shooting, memo shows

todayJuly 18, 2022

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(UVALDE, Texas) — Days after Texas Public Safety Director Steve McCraw criticized the way law enforcement handled the Robb Elementary School shooting, Uvalde officials sought a more positive portrayal of the police response, according to a memo obtained by ABC News.

The one-page memo, first reported by The New York Times, outlined a version of events that defended law enforcement response, contrary to the earlier accounts of the May 24 massacre. It was presented by the Uvalde city attorney to McCraw at a secret meeting on June 2, but was immediately rejected.

The meeting had been called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and was attended by, among others, Uvalde’s mayor and the Uvalde county executive. It was not clear who specifically authored the memo.

The meeting came six days after McCraw said at a press conference that law enforcement’s failure to immediately confront the shooter was “the wrong decision” and criticized the decision-making of local authorities who were on the scene.

In contrast, the memo highlighted the early arrival of officers who “were on scene taking fire” and said “there was zero hesitation on any of these officers’ part, they moved directly towards the gunfire.”

A special Texas House committee said in a scathing report issued Sunday that no officers attempted to breach the classroom for 77 minutes after the gunman entered the school. Nineteen students and two teachers died in the massacre.

The memo also touted the effort to evacuate children, saying, “The total number of persons saved by the heroes that are local law enforcement and the other assisting agencies is over 500 per UCISD. 40 minutes were not wasted but each minute was used to save lives of children and teachers.”

“But for UPD and UCISD being on scene IMMEDIATELY, that shooter would have had free range on the school,” the memo said.

It also said that early-arriving officers were “of the opinion that breaching the door was suicide.”

However, active shooter protocols call for law enforcement to engage a shooter as soon as possible, even at risk to their own lives.

“Responders did not remain focused on the task of stopping the killing as instructed by active shooter training,” said the Texas House committee report.

The committee’s report was also critical of the release of “false and misleading information” and called on law enforcement to be “very careful to state what facts are verifiable, and which ones are not.”

“It does become harder to proclaim the truth when it is so opaque,” the committee report said.

McCraw and his agency have also faced scrutiny for releasing incorrect or, at times, contradictory information about the law enforcement response.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Written by: ABC News

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