The local cops who first responded to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, relented late Friday and agreed to let officers appear before a Texas House committee investigating the May 24 massacre.
“We had several conversations today with the city of Uvalde, the city of Uvalde Police Department,” said state Rep. Dustin Burrows, the committee chairman, the San Antonio Express News reported.
We are going to actually have witnesses testify to us from their department. They have agreed to that.”
The committee is scheduled to reconvene on Monday after hearing from several witnesses on Friday, including two Robb Elementary teachers, Yvette Silva and Mercedes Salas, and two officers with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department — Officer Ruby Gonzalez and Lt. Mike Hernandez, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The panel also visited the now-closed school, where they toured the classroom and laid a wreath outside.
Burrows on Thursday had questioned whether the small town’s officers would testify voluntarily. The City of Uvalde and the Uvalde Police Department have made few public statements and have stalled efforts to release public documents that detail the botched response to the shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.
“It took a little bit longer than we initially had expected,” said Burrows, a Republican. “But those conversations did develop through the day, so they are going to be cooperating with that.”
Uvalde police were the first to arrive on the scene, just two minutes after the 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, entered through an unlocked door and burst into adjoining classrooms, locking himself inside. He shot through the door and grazed two officers, at which point cops fell back instead of forcing their way into the classroom.
The officers, joined by school district police and other law enforcement that rushed to the scene, waited more than an hour before breaching the door and shooting Ramos, despite multiple 911 calls from survivors inside the room begging for help.
The House committee has come under some criticism for holding closed-door meetings that bar the press and public observers. Burrows said that the aim was to reach an accurate understanding of what happened that day, the Chronicle reported.
“One person’s truth may be different than another person’s truth than another person’s truth,” Burrows said.
“I think we know this from all sorts of investigative processes and judicial processes. And before this committee is willing to announce what we believe to be factual, accurate information, we want to hear from all sides and all different viewpoints,” he added.
“I’m not telling you this is the perfect way to go about doing it by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s the way we know that we feel works.”