Texas House Committee chairman pushes for release of hallway surveillance video

(CNN) — The President of the Texas House committee investigating Uvalde school shooting lobbied for the release of hallway surveillance video that shows what police were doing as a gunman remained inside adjacent classrooms for approximately 77 minutes.

Rep. Dustin Burrows, chair of the committee, said Monday that releasing the footage from the hallway would be important because the public would see the evidence for themselves.

“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,” he said.

Burrows is prohibited from releasing the hallway video because he signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety, he said on Twitter on Friday. He attached two letters to his tweet. In one, he asked the DPS for permission to release the video to the public. The other is a response from the DPS saying the agency agrees the video will bring “clarity to the public regarding the tragic events in Uvalde,” but adds that the Uvalde District Attorney “objected to the broadcast of the video”.

His tweet says the video he is pushing to post “contains no images of victims or footage of violence.”

Burrows also said the committee plans to release a preliminary report on the shooting “as soon as possible.” The report could be released within the next 10 days, a source close to the committee previously said.

The video would offer primary evidence of what police were doing responding when a gunman opened fire inside adjacent primary school classrooms on May 24, killing 19 young students and two teachers. A group of officers waited in a nearby hallway for more than an hour before breaking down the door and killing the shooter.

What the officers were doing during those 77 minutes remains largely uncertainand some officials have questioned the reliability of the various investigations aimed at understanding what went wrong that day.

Last month, DPS The director, Colonel Steven McCraw, criticized this delay as a “dismal failure”, citing in part the hallway surveillance video evidence.

What the video shows

Some images in the video were obtained by the Texas Grandstand and Austin American Statesman and showed that the officers had tactical equipment and significant firepower – including guns and tactical shield — long before they finally walk through the door.

The video is “heartbreaking,” Tony Plohetski, an Austin American-Statesman reporter who watched the surveillance footage, told CNN.

The video begins shortly after the shooter entered the school at 11:33 a.m. In the video, the 18-year-old shooter walks into a classroom and “you hear a hail of gunfire,” Plohetski said. A few minutes later, a group of law enforcement officers arrive in the room and there is another gunfight.

“You see the police getting knocked down. One of them touches his head,” and suspects an injury, he said.

Over the next hour of the video, officers converge on the scene and prepare with helmets, assault rifles, ballistic shields and tear gas canisters. But they do not act.

“Essentially they sit there for an hour as those minutes go by,” he said. “It’s not until 12:50 p.m. that we see these officers walk into that classroom, come through the door and shoot the shooter.”

The reporter said the video intensifies questions about the response from local, state and federal agencies on site.

“As to why it was handled the way he did and why the police didn’t act with a greater sense of urgency, I don’t think we’ve found out the truth about that yet,” he said. he declared.

“This video, once it finally becomes public, is going to be very disturbing to a lot of people and I think will really deepen the tragedy that happened that day,” he said.

The director of the DPS testifies for the second time

The House Committee began its final hearing on Monday morning. The witnesses scheduled to testify were McCraw, Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco and John Curnutt, deputy director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

On Thursday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin refuted a new assessment of law enforcement’s response to the shooting, saying the report from the Rapid Response Training Center – an active shooter and attack response training provider at Texas State University – “does not give a full and accurate account of what happened”.

McLaughlin disputed the first part of the report, which said a Uvalde policeman with a rifle spotted the shooter outside the school, but a supervisor either didn’t hear the officer or responded too late when the officer asked permission to shoot.

“No officer from the Uvalde Police Department saw the shooter on May 24 before he entered the school,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “No Uvalde police officer had the opportunity to shoot the shooter.”

CNN on Friday and Sunday asked Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee for comment on why she objects to the release of the video, but did not hear a response.

According to the same source, the preliminary report of the Texas House Investigative Committee will specify conflicting accounts from previous reviews of what happened on May 24. The report will include verbatim quotes from sworn testimony, the source said.

Nolasco told CNN on Sunday that his testimony will be by videoconference, not in person.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) created the three-member committee last month. Burrows, a Republican, was named president; Rep. Joe Moody (D) was named vice-chair; and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is a member of the committee.

The purpose of the commission of inquiry is to establish facts. Two other House committees, Youth Health and Safety and Homeland Security and Public Safety, will be tasked with making legislative recommendations.

Separately, Uvalde County commissioners on Monday unanimously passed a resolution calling on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to call a special session of the Texas Legislative Assembly to consider raising the minimum age. purchase of semi-automatic assault rifles from 18 to 21.

“Texans want to be reassured that we can safely go to the grocery store, church, school, mall and public events,” County Commissioner Roland Garza, who told CNN. introduced the resolution. “It may be a small step, but something has to be done. We want Governor Abbott to listen to us.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.