Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday said the police response to a mass shooting inside a Uvalde, Texas elementary school in May was “indefensible” and “deeply, deeply concerning,” after surveillance footage from inside the school was released.
A day after the Austin American-Statesman published the footage — which showed at least 13 officers, some with riot gear and body armor gathered in the hallway for more than an hour while the gunman rampaged — Cruz told Reuters that police have provided “demonstrably false ”information about the response.
“We need answers and we need accountability as to what the hell went wrong,” Cruz told the news wire service. “The 70-plus minutes they waited, it is heartbreaking, and I think it is indefensible.”
The gunman was inside Robb Elementary School for around 77 minutes, killing 19 children and two adults before police shot and killed him.
The law enforcement response has been widely criticized after police gave conflicting information about what happened, at first saying police responded within minutes and then later admitting it took more than an hour to confront the gunman.
Cruz has blamed the rise in gun violence across the US on violent video games, slowing church attendance and social media bullying, as opposed to the proliferation of guns.
After the Uvalde shooting, he proposed boosting school-safety measures like installing bullet-resistant doors and windows. Cruz also attended a National Rifle Association conference just days after the May 24 bloodbath.
Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who was the commanding officer during the incident, has been placed on administrative leave pending several investigations into the incident.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has called the police response an “abject failure” and said the classroom doors were not locked, contradicting comments from Arredondo, who said police spent time searching for a key to unlock the doors.
The leaked surveillance footage has been controversial, in part because state and city officials were planning on releasing the video on Sunday after parents of the victims had a chance to review it.
On Tuesday, shortly after the Austin American-Statesman published the video and an accompanying narrative, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin slammed the paper for leaking the video, calling it “the most chicken way to put the video out.”
The newspaper’s editor, Manny Garcia, defended the decision to publish the video, saying it was in the public interest to “bring to light what happened at Robb Elementary.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism