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Dozens of DPS officers will be in Uvalde during the upcoming school year

Investigators search for evidences outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022.
Jae C. Hong
/
AP
Investigators search for evidences outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022.

Dozens of Texas Department of Public Safety officers will be in Uvalde during the upcoming school year following a request from the school district superintendent for more resources.

Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that more than 30 officers will be on campuses throughout the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.

“As a new school year begins, we must ensure students, parents, and all dedicated school personnel can look forward to new opportunities to learn and grow,” Abbott said in a statement about the deployment. “Texas will keep working to provide all available support and resources to the Uvalde community as they continue to heal.”

On May 24 an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School and shot and killed 19 children and two schoolteachers. It was later revealed that law enforcement, including school district police and DPS officers, waited more than 70 minutes after the first shots were fired before confronting and eventually killing the gunman.

Abbott’s announcement came just hours after a state district judge denied a request for information to the Texas DPS submitted by state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, whose district includes Uvalde.

Gutierrez made the request for information on May 31 in an effort to gain more insight into law enforcement’s botched response to the shooting. He filed a lawsuit June 22 after he said that DPS “unlawfully denied” his request because the agency did not respond within the time frame mandated by state law.

But in Wednesday’s decision, state district Judge Catherine Mauzy said Gutierrez’s request didn’t comply with the state’s open records laws and was instead a legislative request.

“As Plaintiff’s request not properly submitted pursuant to [the Texas Government Code], the Court did not consider whether the requested information is exempted from required public disclosure by the Texas Public Information Act or there is a compelling reason to withhold the requested information,” the order reads.

Gutierrez said he’d try again.

“Respectfully, I plan to appeal the court’s order and submit a new information request under the court's prescribed manner,” he said in a statement.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Uvalde residents stricken with grief and despair also turned angry and frustrated as law enforcement agencies were tight-lipped in providing details about the response. In June Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw placed most of the blame on local officials, including district police chief Pete Arredondo, whom McCraw said was the incident commander at the scene. Arredondo, who has since been placed on leave pending the investigation, pushed back against that claim, saying law enforcement did all they could to save lives.

Several media outlets have filed a separate lawsuit to gain access to information that they say should be made public. The outlets include: ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, The New York Times Company, The Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Scripps Media and Gannett, ProPublica reported last week.

In his statement, Gutierrez also said the Abbott administration is doing everything it can to avoid turning over the information to protect the state’s police force.

“Governor Abbott’s administration is going to every extreme not only to withhold basic information about the Uvalde massacre,” he said, “but to paint a narrative that absolves the Texas Department of Public Safety of responsibility for the horrid response to the Uvalde shooting.”

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom