(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas state lawmakers convened in Austin on Thursday for a special session to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Uvalde elementary school massacre.
“It is our goal to conduct a thorough, objective and nonpartisan examination … so that we, as a chamber, may move forward in determining the best possible solutions to prevent something like this from ever occurring again,” Texas state Rep. Dustin Burrows, chairman of the committee investigating the shooting, said in an opening statement.
Law enforcement officials are expected to testify in the coming weeks, Burrows said.
“The committee may produce a preliminary report in order to accommodate the need to have some information out to the public before a full and thorough investigation has taken place and we will do our best to keep everyone apprised of that timeline, as we know it,” he said. “I want to assure those watching that answers and solutions will come — and we will work as quickly as possible to get to that point.”
Texas state Rep. Joe Moody added, “We can’t let mass shootings, especially in our schools, be normalized. I was in high school when Columbine happened. And it was shocking because it was unheard of at the time.”
“Failing to tackle these issues because they’re difficult or politically uncomfortable is cowardly and morally wrong,” Moody said. “We have a duty to do what we can because our children’s lives are on the line. That’s why this committee is so important. When the issues are this complex and the stakes are this high, we need facts first. … We have to cut through the noise and the partisanship and deliver the truth. Only then can we make the informed policy decisions that are urgently needed.”
Nineteen students and two teachers were gunned down in the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. As gunshots rang out, parents gathered outside of the school, urging officers to enter the building.
After 77 minutes of gunfire, a tactical unit breached the classroom door and killed the gunman.
Law enforcement has come under immense scrutiny for failing to act faster.
Law enforcement and state officials have repeatedly corrected themselves and at times provided conflicting details about their response. At one point, a Texas Department of Public Safety official said the on-scene commanding officer, school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, made the “wrong decision” to wait to breach the barricaded classrooms.
At a separate news conference Thursday, Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, wouldn’t address any personnel questions and would not confirm if Arredondo, who has since been sworn in on the city council, is still employed by the district.
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