Texas School Safety after two mass school shootings has parents demanding change in police response

Posted at 3:13 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 23:44:44-05

TEXAS — Parents of students from Uvalde and Santa Fe walked up and down the hallways of the state capital — speaking to lawmakers.

At Santa Fe High School, 10 were killed on May 18, 2018. At Robb Elementary in Uvalde, 21 were killed on May 24, 2021. That has parents like Nikki and Brett Cross demanding change at all levels, from gun laws to how police respond.

Their son, Uziyah Garcia, 10, was among the 19 children and two adults killed in the May 24 massacre. Parents went from office to office — and even chased down the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw.

"They are stubborn, but I'm more stubborn," said Brett Cross.

Cross and other family members were waiting for outside room E2.012 at the state capitol where McCraw was scheduled for a Safety Committee Meeting. They wanted to have a conversation with the head of DPS. While waiting, families noticed that the same people kept peeking around the corner.

McCraw was brought through another door.

That's when the families went into the meeting and respectfully listened to the questions from the committee — most of them about the U.S./Mexico border. There were a few questions about the Uvalde response.

One lawmaker asked McCraw if the department had any additional training after the shooting. McCraw said DPS had increased the training with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, and that the department had initiated joint training with school districts.

Rep. Sam Harless, R-Spring, asked McCraw about the chain of command that delayed the law enforcement response.

“The department standpoint going forward, shortly thereafter the Uvalde tragedy, is that our policy is very simple – there's no such thing as a barricaded subject on a school grounds if they shot somebody,” McCraw

“You go find them and neutralize them. There’s no negotiations, there’s no evacuations; you go find (the shooter) and eliminate the threat, period.”

After McCraw was finished, the families started asking why McCraw wouldn't speak to them.

"You stood around and watched the shooter," one family member said.

The family members continued asking the same question and asking him to resign.

"Hey McCraw, why won't you talk to us?" Brett Cross asked.

In the room were two uniformed DPS troopers and several undercover officers.

McCraw offered to speak with Brett Cross by himself.

"What do you have to hide?" Cross asked.

"I'd rather talk to you alone," McCraw replied.

The exchange continued to the elevator where Cross had a meeting with the head of DPS.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said there wouldn't be anymore disciplining of its troopers over the police response at Robb Elementary. DPS’s Office of the Inspector General started an investigation into seven of the agency’s 91 who responded to Robb Elementary.

When asked by The Dallas Morning Newsif any more officers would be disciplined, DPS Director Steve McCraw said no.

“Just the two,” he told reporters after a budgetary hearing at the Capitol Thursday.

The family members from Robb Elementary have been asking for him to step down after he said he would — if DPS had any wrongdoing in the response. He told reporters that Texans would be “stuck with me (him) for the time being" and that he "will be here for a while.”

Crimson Elizondo was one of the state troopers who arrived at Robb Elementary within two minutes according to CNN.

Her handgun drawn, outside the school building and briefly in the hallway footage shows from another law enforcement officer. Later she's heard speaking to another officer.

“If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside,” Elizondo said.

“I promise you that.”

Elizondo resigned from the Texas Department of Public Safety and was later hired by Uvalde CISD. She was fired after her response became public.

The agency fired one Sgt. Juan Maldonado, and is attempting to terminate another — Ranger Christopher Kindell.

"We the people demand an open forum to discuss Uvalde and the comments he (McCraw) has made openly about DPS failure," Brett Cross tweeted days after the meeting.

The agency has been criticized that no DPS trooper took charge during the response, and McCraw has been critical that the school district police chief failed to do so.