The Austin American-Statesman newspaper published edited portions of school surveillance video on Tuesday showing officers retreating from gunfire in the hallway of Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, during the fatal May 24 shooting. .
The video uploaded to the newspaper’s website is just over four minutes long and first shows teachers screaming as the gunman drives through the Robb Elementary School parking lot after crashing a truck just outside the property . After the shooter entered the building at 11:33 a.m., hallway surveillance cameras showed him walking down the hallway unchallenged with a semi-automatic rifle.
Gunshots are heard as the shooter enters a classroom and a child across the hall is seen running. The newspaper says it removed the sound of children’s screams from the video.
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The first shots that appeared to be aimed at responding officers are heard at 11:37 a.m., immediately sending officers running down the hall in retreat.
Several officers are seen with their weapons drawn in the hallway, but are not seen approaching the classroom again until 12:21 p.m., after four more shots were heard from the gunman.
Officers no longer directly confront the shooter until 12:50 p.m., when authorities say the shooter was killed by law enforcement.
The shooter killed 19 young students and two teachers.
The surveillance video comes amid continued outrage and questions over the police response to the shooting. What officers were doing in the 77 minutes after the shooting began was largely unclear, and some officials questioned the reliability of the various investigations aimed at understanding what went wrong that day- the.
The newspaper then published a second edited video. The second video, posted on the newspaper’s YouTube channel, is nearly an hour and a half long and the audio is also edited.
The newspaper’s decision was criticized by a number of family members of the victims who said they wanted to be able to see the footage before it was made public, as state officials had promised to do this weekend. end.
Statesman editor Manny García defended the publication of the video in an online editorial, but did not explain specifically why the paper chose not to wait until the weekend. He said the release of the video was part of an effort to hold those involved in the response to the shooting accountable.
“We are all aligned for the truth,” García said.
The release came after “a long and thoughtful discussion”, he wrote.
At a city council meeting in Uvalde, Mayor Don McLaughlin said the newspaper’s actions were “one of the craziest things I have ever seen”.
Parts of the video should not have aired, he added.
“There is no reason for families to see this. I mean, they were going to see the video, but they didn’t need to see the shooter come in and hear the gunshots. They don’t need to go through this again, they’ve been through enough,” he said.
The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said he was “deeply disappointed” with the leaked video ahead of the scheduled public release this weekend.
“I am deeply disappointed that this video was released before all of the families who were affected that day and the community of Uvalde had the opportunity to view it as part of President Dustin Burrows’ plan,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a written statement. “Those most affected should have been among the first to see it.”
Last month, McCraw slammed law enforcement’s delay in action as an “abject failure,” citing evidence from hallway surveillance video in part.
The Texas House committee investigating the school shooting had planned to release the more than hour-long hallway surveillance footage to the families of the victims and the public shortly thereafter on Sunday, the US representative said. State Dustin Burrows on Twitter.
After the video was released, he wrote, “I am also disappointed that the families of the victims and the demands of the community of Uvalde to watch the video first, and not have certain images and audio of the violence, have not been satisfied.
The intention of the committee and its professional staff was to meet the families of the 21 victims privately in Uvalde and provide them with a hard copy of the preliminary report and a link to the video, a source close to the committee said. The committee also planned to answer questions from families about the findings, the source said.
A source close to the committee told CNN the plan did not change after the edited video was posted online.
Burrows had been pushing for the release of the video to the public amid scrutiny of the police response.
“I can tell people all day what I saw, the committee can tell people all day what we saw, but it’s very different to see it for yourself, and we think it’s is very important,” Burrows said.
However, he said last week that he was prohibited from doing so because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement with DPS. He also released a letter in which DPS said he agreed the video would bring “clarity” to what happened, but explained that the Uvalde District Attorney “objected to the broadcast of the video”.
CNN asked Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee Friday and Sunday for comment on why she objects to the release of the video, but did not hear a response.
After the video was released, some relatives of the victims expressed outrage at the social media spread and urged people not to share the footage.
“PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DON’T SHARE THE VIDEO!!” We need time to process this!! “Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, wrote on Facebook.
Gloria Cazares, whose daughter Jackie was killed, also implored her family and friends on Facebook not to share the video. “This is the opposite of what the families wanted!!!!! If you are a true friend please don’t share it, I don’t want to see it in my feed nor do I want to be tagged on any of the news stations that share it.
His anger palpable, Cazares also posted a photo of the Austin American-Statesman reporter who wrote about the video, and punctuated his comments with one addressed to him – “F**k Y**U.”
“Our hearts are broken again!!!!!!!!!” Cazares wrote.
Some family members were in Washington talking to members of Congress when they heard about the video. It was unclear whether they had watched the edited video.
At a press conference, Kimberly Rubio, mother of 10-year-old Lexi, tearfully said, “We understand that the media wants to hold people accountable, because the government hasn’t been transparent with us, but you you don’t need the audio for that and you don’t need the full video for that. What they were going to show us was enough. He didn’t have to do that.
She added that gunshot audio was not necessary. “We have to tell our family at home not to watch the news and our children, they have cell phones. This is unacceptable,” Rubio said.
See a heartbreaking interview with a child who survived the Uvalde shooting
Arreola earlier told CNN her family had “mixed emotions” about whether they wanted to see the video.
“We want, I want to see the video,” she said. “At the same time, I’m scared of what I’m going to feel because right now we have so much anger, we have so many mixed emotions. More hurt than anything, because of what happened. Then anger, because we don’t get the answers we need.
“Seeing this, I think it’s just going to make everyone angrier, knowing that they’ve just been sitting there doing nothing for this long time. They can tell they’ve been waiting or they’re preparing. Seventy-seven minutes to prepare is way too long,” she said.
The video and preliminary report should clarify what the police were actually doing while they waited in the hallway and will contradict previous public statements and official reports.
For example, a report released last week by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) said an armed Uvalde police officer spotted the shooter outside the school. and asked permission to shoot.
However, the source close to the committee said that this account is not true and did not happen. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin also refuted the account as untrue.
And on Monday night, ALERRT deputy director John Curnutt said their findings were based on two statements by an officer which were later contradicted by a third statement.
“At the time we released our initial after-action, the information we had on this particular officer came from the officer’s two previous statements given to investigators,” he said in a statement. “We were unaware that just before we released our initial after-action, the officer made a third statement to investigators that was different from the first two statements.”