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Between Uvalde massacre & murderous inmate escape, Texans shaking heads at authorities

Why is information hard to receive?
Posted at 9:00 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 22:07:05-04

CENTERVILLE, Texas  — In 2016, Senate Bill 158 passed giving $10 million for grants for law enforcement agencies to equip officers with body-worn cameras.

Body camera video is sold to the public many times as transparency.

However, in Texas, it's nearly impossible to receive footage.

Since the Uvalde shooting outlets across the country have asked for video, scanner traffic, and 911 calls.

Instead, those requests have been denied.

One law enforcement officer, who has worked at Dallas PD and other departments in Texas, said Uvalde has set police in Texas back 20 years.

Monday, the San Antonio Express-News reported state Sen. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio was told there were 13 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in the hallway during the Uvalde mass shooting that killed 21.

“He told me there was enough people and equipment to breach the door,” Gutierrez said, even as officers continued to wait for more than an hour and some of the children inside the two locked classrooms called 911 for help.

School Shooting Texas
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw speaks during a press conference held outside Robb Elementary School on Friday, May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Gutierrez said he was receiving information from DPS Director Steven McCraw. DPS spokesman Travis Considine took issue with comments by Gutierrez in the San Antonio Express-News on Tuesday

DPS is now saying troopers were helping evacuate. This is just one of many changes in the story since the day of the shooting.

25 News reached out to Gutierrez after DPS said what he was saying was inaccurate.

"The senator was told by Col. McCraw that as many as 13 DPS officers were in the hallway at any given time," said Jorge Vasquez from Gutierrez's office. "Col. McCraw also told Senator Gutierrez that the on-scene officers had three ballistic shields and could have breached the door."

uvalde memorial.PNG
Roses, notes, candles and stuffed animals surrounded a fountain in the center of Uvalde Town Square on Sunday.

According to the senator's office, they continue to ask for all DPS personnel data as to situational logistics.

"DPS continues to withhold information behind a criminal investigation loophole," said Lopez. "It is imperative that all the facts from the investigation are released immediately and transparently to restore public trust in the Texas Department of Public Safety."

Local officials in Uvalde are doing the same on the investigation. For many days they turned comments off on social media after thousands of people flooded the account.

The Uvalde CISD Police Department has been called out, but Sen. Gutierrez has said he wants all agencies looked at.

The U.S.-Mexico border is not far from Uvalde.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has $3 billion for the 2022-2023 budget cycle. Law enforcement is seen up and down the area at all times.

Its mayor has been on Fox News several times before the shooting bragging about law enforcement and the fight with drug cartels.
The mayor has also backtracked his story many times.

"The City of Uvalde and its Police Department strive for transparency every day.The Uvalde County District Attorney has requested the city to not release any City records
related to the Robb Elementary School investigation.

The District Attorney told us the material is still being reviewed and her investigation is ongoing. When all investigations and reviews are complete, the city will evaluate release of City records.

For now, all questions relating to body cam videos and other Robb Elementary School investigative records are being handled by the District Attorney. I appreciate your interest in telling the story of what happened.

I want answers and our families deserve answers, and we trust the answers will come.
Mayor Don McLaughlin
Lopez
New photos released of "dangerous" Leon County prison bus escapee.

Three hundred miles from Uvalde in Centerville, residents are angry with law enforcement and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling on the Texas Rangers to investigate how cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez escaped from custody while on board a prison bus in Leon County and then murdered a grandfather and his four grandsons three weeks later.

Mark Collins
Mark Collins, 66, died with his four grandsons inside a Leon County ranch home that authorities believe convicted killer Gonzalo Lopez hid inside after fleeing from custody last month.
Bryson Collins
Bryson Collins, 11, joined his three cousins and grandfather for a trip to the family ranch in Leon County. He was also a Tomball ISD student.

Many are holding TDCJ responsible for the escape and brutal murder. All five were shot and stabbed several times. Many questions on how an inmate escaped custody have gone unanswered.

COLLINS FAMILY

25 News has sent countless emails trying to get answers. Lopez was found just a mile from where he escaped and was on the loose for more than 20 days.

“The investigation continues, but it is believed at this time Lopez remained in the general area and could have potentially been entering unoccupied structures to access food and water and possibly clothing," TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst said.

Texas cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez had key, knife prior to escape: State Senator

It was later released from state Sen. John Whitmire that Lopez had a key and homemade knife. At first, TDCJ would not confirm that. The next day a statement was sent to 25 News.

"There is an assumption that Lopez had some kind of sharp object to cut through the bus door and a key to get out of his handcuffs," Hurst said.

No evidence to this effect has ever been recovered.

It's been asked multiple times if there were cameras on the bus. That's a question, too, that still has gone unanswered.

Texas School-Shooting
Police walk near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Both events have put a black eye on authorities and their communications departments. It's important to note that public information officials answer to those who are higher up. TDCJ did hold many press conferences and would take questions.

In Uvalde the night of the shooting, press conferences were bizarre. Little information and no answers. By the middle of the week, heated press conferences started with the head of DPS and reporters shouting questions as they remained behind crime scene tape.

Both events have many people concerned about transparency by Texas and local authorities.