The families of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting called for Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw to resign on Thursday, urging him to take responsibility for officers' failure to confront the shooter for more than an hour.
"The time is now," said Brett Cross, father of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, one of the victims of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary that left 19 students and two teachers dead. "If you're a man of your word, you'll resign."
The call to resignation came during a DPS hearing in Austin during which McCraw provided an update on the ongoing investigation into the law enforcement response. It was also one day after NBC affiliate WOAI published newly obtained bodycam footage that showed state troopers and other unidentified officers speaking to one another about the need to approach the shooter and their fears of getting shot.
"What's the safest way to do this? I'm not trying to get clapped out," one unidentified officer says in the video.
"And I also don't like standing right by the windows where we can get shot, bro," the same officer says.
During Thursday's meeting, Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said DPS needed to show accountability for its officers' inaction and make restitution to the victims. He said 91 DPS officers were on Robb Elementary's campus during the shooting, and even though they were "trained" and "equipped," none of them opened the unlocked classroom door while the shooter was inside.
"As a result of that inaction, more lives were lost," Gutierrez said.
One of the first DPS officers at the scene of the shooting was fired last week, after the Uvalde school district police chief was fired and the rest of that department suspended. McCraw previously called the law enforcement response, which he said was under the command of then–Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, an "abject failure." But on Thursday, he defended his department.
He said if DPS as an institution had failed the families, school, or community, "then absolutely, I need to go." However, McCraw continued, "DPS as an institution right now did not fail the community," and he would not be resigning.
At the same time, McCraw acknowledged that officers at the scene waited far too long to confront the shooter, which since the shooting at Columbine High School has been widely accepted must happen as soon as possible. The officers in Uvalde stood in the school's hallway for 77 minutes.
"Five minutes afterwards, there were enough officers, there was enough equipment, there was enough knowledge, there was enough information to do what needed to be done immediately," McCraw said.
Multiple family members of the victims spoke on Thursday, emotionally describing their loss and the need for accountability. Jesse Rizo, uncle of 9-year-old victim Jackie Cazares, said during the meeting that May 24 was Uvalde's 9/11.
"We may look strong," he said. "We may sound strong, but inside, we're falling apart. That's our reality."
He also called for McCraw to resign and said that the families are being fed lies and misinformation.
McCraw went on to take responsibility for wrongly saying a teacher left a door propped open in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. He continued to partially blame the unlocked door for the shooting.
"Unfortunately, the door was unlocked, and that matters," he said.
The DPS investigation is expected to be complete by the end of the year. After McCraw finished speaking, he invited the victims' families to respond. Cross asked him to resign once more, prompting a back-and-forth between the two men.
"I lost my damn son," Cross said. "Your anger is not going to outmatch mine."