Col. Steven McCraw
Title: Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott)
His connection to the massacre: McCraw leads the state agency investigating the law enforcement response to the Uvalde mass shooting. His agency includes the Texas Rangers, an investigative branch of the Texas DPS.
McCraw called the police response “an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”
He identified the incident commander as the school district police chief and slammed the chief’s decision to not immediately breach the classroom door. Officers waited in or around a hallway for more than an hour after the shooting began.
“It was the wrong decision, period,” McCraw said. “There’s no excuse for that.”
Why he’s under scrutiny: Uvalde’s mayor criticized McCraw for directing blame at the Uvalde schools police chief when officers from McCraw’s own agency were also at the scene.
DPS did not directly address McLaughlin’s criticism of McCraw. In a July 5 statement, DPS said it is “committed to working with multiple law enforcement agencies to get the answers we all seek” and said “this is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.”
The 376 responders came from an array of agencies, according to a Texas House investigative committee report. Among them, 149 were from US Border Patrol, 91 were from the Texas Department of Public Safety and 14 were from the Department of Homeland Security.
“Every agency in that hallway is gonna have to share the blame,” McLaughlin, the mayor, told CNN on July 5.
A shifting timeline of when DPS personnel arrived on the scene raises serious questions about the department’s trustworthiness, the head of the largest police union in Texas told CNN. He has called for an “outside independent source” to probe the initial response.
“I don’t know that we can trust (DPS) to do an internal investigation,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which represents some law enforcement officers in Uvalde. “I would say that DPS was fast to wash its hands, to point fingers and to make sure that the general public, particularly the elected officials, knew that they were spotless, blameless and that this was a local problem.”
The latest: While in June the DPS director called the response an “abject failure,” a DPS trooper was on scene outside Robb Elementary just 2 minutes and 28 seconds after the gunman entered, CNN was first to report August 2. The trooper was seen on police bodycam video provided to CNN by McLaughlin.
Previously, McCraw said one trooper had entered the hallway at 11:42 a.m., or nine minutes after the shooter entered the school. Uvalde police bodycam video first reported on by CNN showed a DPS trooper at the west entrance of the school at 11:37:51 – about five minutes earlier than previously acknowledged.
DPS’ investigation into the shooting will include an internal review of the actions taken by every DPS officer on the scene to determine whether any should be referred to an inspector general for investigation, McCraw said August 4. The DPS director said he had not yet reviewed video from all 34 body cameras – noting that he may have to correct that number in the future – but he had seen excerpts.
McCraw would not publicly release any details of the probe, in accordance with a Uvalde County district attorney’s request, he said, noting the case could take years.
Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis/Getty Images