Exclusive: Texas DPS chief dismisses claims of cover-up in Uvalde investigation, denies telling captains ‘no one is losing their job’

His promise came after CNN tracked him down and confronted him with the minutes of an internal meeting in which he tells highway patrol captains the opposite — that “no one is losing their job” because of law enforcement’s inept response.

But at the Texas Highway Patrol captains’ meeting less than two weeks later, on August 15 and 16, the minutes obtained by CNN show that he says, “And by the way, no one is losing their job. On the contrary, all the leaders in Region 3 did what they had to do and came up to handle the moment.”

While confirming much of the information attributed to him in the memorandum, McCraw said he had been misquoted about the possibility of layoffs and his comments referred only to Victor Escalon, a regional director of DPS.

“I have reviewed his actions and there is nothing he could have done other than what he did,” McCraw said. “I have made an injunction decision and Victor Escalon will not be fired, period.”

Action has already been taken this week. Two DPS officers who were on the scene at Robb Elementary were suspended with pay and referred for formal investigation by the inspector general, and three more would also be investigated, the department said.

It is not known which actions by the agents led to the escalation; no one has been publicly identified.

And McCraw reiterated that he could not provide more information – despite the cries of next of kin, residents and their representatives – because the local prosecutor had asked him not to. He acknowledges that the criminal investigation could take years.
A coalition of news organizations, including CNN, is suing the DPS for data related to the investigation that has been withheld from the media and the public.

‘We let go of everything’

In the exclusive interview, McCraw said he would resign if his force was found to be guilty of the botched response that the gunman had left with dead and dying victims for 74 minutes as hundreds of agents from multiple troops arrived on the scene and failed to find him. challenged.

“First of all, there is no cover-up. And the bottom line is that we release everything as soon as possible,” he told CNN before a meeting in Brownsville.

“If we get the opportunity to come and talk to you, I’ll go line by line in terms of what trooper did what … which DPS officer. We’ll be completely transparent,” McCraw said. “The public will have it — they’ll have excruciating detail in terms of what we did, when we did it, and those gaps.”

He promised: “I will be the first to resign. I will gladly resign. I will submit my resignation to the governor if I think there is any debt to the Ministry of Public Security. Period.”

When asked if he would meet the families who still have many questions more than three months after the murders, McCraw said he would. But he added: “What I want is to have answers, right. I have no answers until the Inspector General’s investigation is completed.”

He continued: “We are not going to give anyone the opportunity to undermine the criminal investigation.”

Confidence wiped across the board

McCraw hasn’t given extensive interviews since the May 24 atrocity, though in the days since he became a public face of law enforcement’s response — first at a table with Texas Governor Greg Abbott as officers’ efforts were praised, and then at a later press conference and Texas Senate testimony when he called the operation an “abject failure” and blamed school police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo.
Arredondo has since been fired by the school district. Arredondo has said he did not consider himself the commander of the incident at the school and has called for a statement from his lawyer to reinstate him.
McCraw’s comments put him at the center of a vastly changing story that exposed him and his department to criticism from the mayor of Uvalde, families and others across the country.

He told CNN that, in hindsight, he might have done things differently, but said he felt the record should be corrected.

“I gave a press conference that Friday because I thought it was important, because people are impressed … there was a brave, heroic response from the police [and it] was anything but that. It was an abject failure, plain and simple,” he said.

There shouldn’t have been a party that officers evacuated children because that job could have been done by teachers, he said.

And he said trust had been broken between his DPS officers and the local chapters and agencies, which they often assist in major incidents.

“The paradigm is gone,” he said, referring to how officers were told it was a matter of a barricaded topic talking to negotiators and not an armed man with casualties.

“We can’t believe that until we’re absolutely sure,” he told CNN.

New procedures implemented

McCraw said his own officers were shocked to realize what had happened in Uvalde on May 24.

“We are out there with perimeter duty impressed” [it’s a barricaded suspect] — I can’t tell you how sick they are when they see children suddenly being brought out who are dead,” he said.

“That’s an impact these troops will have to live with for the rest of their lives because they were there. And I guarantee that if they had known, they would have been there.’

New procedures set out by McCraw to the DPS in July in a letter released publicly this week say officers must now “overcome any delay in neutralizing an attacker” at a school.
AJ Martinez goes back to school with a smile on his face and pictures of his butchered classmates on his chest

Meeting with his captains in August, he said DPS should remain vigilant for mass attacks and asked them to share ideas to improve top-down communication.

Earlier in the session, he discussed personnel issues, saying that DPS was asking $466 million to start a “state of the art shoot house…that resembles a school”. The total cost of the facility to be used for training would be $1.4 billion, the minutes show.

Although he has not spent time in Uvalde since the immediate aftermath, McCraw said he was also affected. “It was horrific, and anyone who has been in that building or involved in any way will never be the same.”

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz and Matthew J. Friedman reported on this story from Brownsville and Uvalde, Texas, and Rachel Clarke wrote in Atlanta.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Eric Levenson and Andy Rose contributed to this story.