This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Leaked video to the Austin American-Statesman showed what law enforcement officials did and did not do while an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in an Uvalde elementary school classroom in May.
Members of the Texas House committee investigating the May 24 massacre planned to release the footage to the public Sunday. District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee previously instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety not to release the video, according to a letter DPS sent to the committee chair, Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). Burrows announced in a tweet Monday he would release the video to the Uvalde community and families with or without her permission.
The full 77-minute leaked video was released by the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday. It included video from the hallway, outside the school and body camera video.
After the video was published, Burrows wrote on social media: “The committee is aware a portion of the hallway video has been made public. While I am glad that a small portion is now available for the public, I do believe watching the entire segment of law enforcement’s response, or lack thereof, is also important.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Burrows had said the committee planned to share its preliminary report to the Uvalde community before sharing it with the public. He wrote on Twitter after the leak he was “disappointed” the families could not see the video first. A source close to the committee said the video it intended to release this weekend was “clean, unedited” hallway video without audio that lasted 77 minutes.
The hour-plus video from that camera provides the most clear account to date of what happened in the moments leading up to the gunman’s rampage, showing local and state law enforcement response up until they eventually entered the classroom and killed the gunman. The release of the video comes seven weeks after the massacre, amid public outrage and confusion over different agencies’ accounts of what happened that day.
What the video shows
The start of the leaked video from the Austin American-Statesman shows the 18-year-old gunman crash a truck into a ditch outside of the school. Two people can be seen walking toward a ditch area off the side of the road and start running away.
Four minutes later, the gunman — dressed in black and armed with the AR-15 he purchased legally a week prior — was seen walking down a school hallway.
Unobstructed, he continues to walk down the hallway before reaching, presumably, Room 111 or 112. Gunfire erupts as he walks toward the room.
Three minutes after the gunman unleashed rounds of ammunition, a group of officers from the Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde school district moved from two ends of the hall to approach the classrooms where the gunman was.
Top leaders from the state had been joining the chorus of calls for DPS and the Uvalde DA to release the hallway footage. However, many leaders were quick to criticize the way the footage was released.
Renae Eze, a spokesperson for Gov. Greg Abbott, sent KXAN the following statement:
“Governor Abbott is disheartened and disappointed that this video was leaked before the victims’ families and the Uvalde community—those most affected by this tragedy—had the opportunity to view it. The Governor has been clear since day one that he expects all information surrounding the tragedy at Robb School Elementary to be released, and we do appreciate that the Uvalde community is getting answers. The investigations being conducted by the Texas Rangers and the FBI are ongoing, and we look forward to the full results being shared with the victims’ families and the public, who deserve the full truth of what happened that tragic day.”
Democratic state Rep. Joe Moody, vice chair of the House committee investigating the shooting, echoed those sentiments in a tweet, adding, “the report we’re working on provides context. A piecemeal release of information continues to tell part of a story that people deserve the complete truth about.”
‘Not the full story’
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, has been calling for transparency and release of records from May 24 for weeks. On Twitter, he called the footage “horrific” and the nature of how it was released “appalling.”
KXAN interviewed Gutierrez before the full video was leaked. He had already seen the first couple of minutes of the video prior, but not the full video. During the interview, the senator said the release of the 77-minute video would be a “good beginning step, but it’s not the full story.”
“It’s not going to give us the body cam audio, it’s not gonna give us the information as to what law enforcement agencies were on site and where they were situated. It’s not going to give us the 911 calls, it’s not going to give us any indication as to who really if anybody was in charge,” Gutierrez said.
The Democratic senator is also suing Texas DPS for denying him several open records related to the shooting, in violation of state law.
“Until we get all of the information and all of the body cam footage, we will not be ready to accept what what is being shown shown to us,” Gutierrez said.
Reaction from the Uvalde community
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin mentioned the release of the video at the beginning of Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“There’s no reason the families had to see that. They were going to see the video, but they didn’t need to see the gunman come in and hear the gunshots. They don’t need to relive that, they’ve been through enough,” he said.
A family member of one of the victims shared a similar sentiment.
“We saw it the same time the rest of the world saw it,” he said. “Even though we had asked for it before from our DA and to not have the audio there. We didn’t need to hear our babies being massacred.”
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District also released a statement Tuesday, saying it is waiting for the results of the investigation so it can learn from it and take action to prevent something similar from happening in the future.
“There are no words to adequately express our community’s continued pain. The footage is heartbreaking and we are deeply dismayed that the families that lost loved ones were not given the opportunity they deserve to view it privately before it was shared publicly,” the school district wrote.