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DPS Director Steve McCraw says his agency didn’t fail Uvalde families during shooting

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw speaks at a conference table in his DPS uniform
Gabriel C. Pérez
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw speaks at a public safety roundtable discussion with the governor in January 2021.

The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Thursday he will not resign from his post, despite increasing calls for him to do so over his agency’s response to the shooting in Uvalde last May.

Steve McCraw made his remarks during a meeting of the DPS Public Safety Commission, where he provided a brief update on the investigation into the shooting.

“If DPS as an institution failed the families, failed the school or failed the community of Uvalde — then absolutely, I need to go,” McCraw said, looking at the Uvalde families gathered across the room. “But I can tell you this right now, DPS as an institution right now did not fail the community.”

With this, McCraw is setting a new standard for Uvalde-related resignations. Last month he told CNN he would resign if he thought "there is any culpability in the Department of Public Safety.”

Last week, DPS fired Sgt. Juan Maldonado, one of the first law enforcement agents to respond to the shooting.

Calls for change go unanswered

Over the last few months, the family members of the victims of the Robb Elementary shooting have been criticizing McCraw for the poor response from his department.

They have also called for his resignation.

“You have disgraced the state, your position, and the people,” Brett Cross, the father of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, told McCraw during the meeting. “Well, Steve, the time is now. If you're a man of your word, you'll resign. We're not waiting any longer.”

Out of the more than 300 law enforcement officers from 23 agencies responding to the shooting, DPS was the agency with the second most agents on scene, with 91 officers.

Still, law enforcement agents waited more than 70 minutes to breach the classroom and kill the 18-year-old gunman.

McCraw initially placed all the blame on former Uvalde Schools Chief of Police Pete Arredondo. However, new reports show DPS agents were some of the first to respond to the active shooting scene.

“Every responding officer needs to be accountable for their actions,” McCraw said Thursday. “I can tell you, there were things that we aren't proud about. We had two people inside the building within [the first] 10 minutes.”

After Thursday’s meeting, victims’ family members who attended were furious, with many saying McCraw’s actions show he doesn’t care about their pain.

Manuel Rizo, the uncle of 9-year-old victim Jacklyn Cazares, said McCraw’s refusal to step down is “confusing.” "I don’t understand how he can say that DPS didn’t fail the community yet he said they should’ve taken [the shooter] out within 10 minutes,” Rizo told The Texas Newsroom. “So, it’s contradicting, but we are used to it.”

Cross, the father of Uziyah, said McCraw is making the tragedy political.

“What’s not political is my son is dead — 18 of his f****** classmates are dead, two teachers are dead, there’s many more wounded,” Cross told reporters.

Update on investigation

Meanwhile, during Thursday’s meeting McCraw said the Texas Rangers will conclude their part of the investigation into police response in the next two months.

McCraw said their report will be sent to the Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell, who is conducting a criminal investigation.

Earlier this week, DPS announced the head of the Texas Rangers was retiring amid the ongoing investigation.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting an independent “critical incident review” of the response of law enforcement.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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