By Aya Elamroussi, CNN
The lack of clarity surrounding authorities’ response to the mass shooting at a South Texas elementary school could hinder efforts to prevent such massacres from happening again, a state lawmaker told CNN on Friday.
Ten days after a gunman slaughtered 19 students and their two teachers in their classrooms at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, there are still significant gaps in the information officials have released about law enforcement’s response.
“My point as a policymaker, which is the third function of my job, is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde.
“How in the world are we going to be able to do anything if we can’t figure out what happened in that building in those 40 minutes?”
The shifting police narratives, unanswered questions and the horror of knowing 21 victims were trapped with a gunman for more than an hour — despite repeated 911 calls for help from inside the classrooms — is tormenting this small Texas city.
Gutierrez has questioned whether the responding officers on scene were aware of those calls as they stood outside the classrooms. It’s also unclear whether the incident commander, who made the call for the officers not to confront the shooter immediately, was on scene as the shooting unfolded.
The frustration was palpable Friday night when Uvalde held its first board meeting following the massacre.
The main public development was that Superintendent Hal Harrell reiterated students would not be returning to Robb Elementary — after which the school board went into a lengthy closed-door session that was scheduled to involve the approval of personnel employments, assignments, suspensions and terminations.
Angela Turner, a mother of five who lost her niece in the shooting, expressed outrage. “We want answers to where the security is going to take place. This was all a joke,” she told reporters, referring to the meeting. “I’m so disappointed in our school district.”
Turner insisted that she will not send her children to school unless they feel safe, adding that her 6-year-old child told her, “I don’t want to go to school. Why? To be shot?”
“These people will not have a job if we stand together, and we do not let our kids go here,” she said as she pointed to a vacant school board podium.
Dawn Poitevent, a mother whose child was slated to attend Robb Elementary as a second-grader, was tearful as she told reporters that she wants the board to consider letting her child stay at his current school, Dalton Elementary.
“I just need to keep my baby safe, and I can’t promise him that. Nobody can promise their children that right now,” Poitevent said. “At least if he goes to Dalton, he’s not going to be scared, and he’s not going to be having the worst first day that I can possibly imagine.”
Poitevent added that her son, Hayes, has been telling her that he’s scared to go to school because a “bad man” will shoot him.
“We’re just trying so hard to get past everything,” she said. “We’re trying to bury our babies and say goodbye to people that really mattered.”
Gutierrez reiterated that the issue goes beyond school safety.
“The errors that occurred here, the systemic failure, the human errors that ended up in this terrible loss of life: Everybody is accountable,” Gutierrez said.
Gun manufacturer under scrutiny
Also under scrutiny is the gun manufacturer of the weapon used in the mass shooting.
Lawyers for the father of shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza, 10, said Friday they asked gunmaker Daniel Defense to provide all marketing information, particularly strategy aimed at teens and children, according to a statement.
“She would want to me to do everything I can, so this will never happen again to any other child,” Alfred Garza III said in the statement. “I have to fight her fight.”
Attorneys for her mother, Kimberly Garcia, also sent a letter to the company, demanding it “preserve all potentially relevant information” related to the shooting.
On Thursday, an attorney representing teacher Emilia Marin filed a petition to depose the gunmaker, according to a court filing. Marin had been wrongly accused of opening the door that the shooter used to access the school.
“The subject matter of the potential claim is the conduct of Daniel Defense which was a cause of the injuries and damages suffered by Emelia Marin,” according to the petition provided to CNN by the teacher’s lawyer.
Daniel Defense has not replied to multiple requests by CNN for comment.
On its website, Daniel Defense said it will “cooperate with all federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations,” referring to the Uvalde shooting as an “act of evil.”
In February, the families of five children and four adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reached a $73 million settlement with the gun manufacturer Remington, which made the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre. That shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Connecticut, was the deadliest school shooting in the US.
House hearing focuses on recent shootings
Next week, survivors and others affected by the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde will testify before the House Oversight Committee, according to the committee’s website.
Witnesses scheduled at next Wednesday’s hearing include Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grade student at Robb Elementary; Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary; Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman was injured in the Buffalo, New York, shooting; and Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde, Texas. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia will also testify.
“The hearing will examine the urgent need for Congress to pass commonsense legislation that a majority of Americans support,” Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said in a statement. “This includes legislation to ban assault weapons and bolster background checks on gun purchases, while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
Meanwhile in Texas, a state legislator established a committee to “conduct an examination into the circumstances” surrounding the shooting.
“The fact we still do not have an accurate picture of what exactly happened in Uvalde is an outrage,” Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, said in a statement Friday.
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CNN’s Ed Lavandera, Morgan Rimmer, Meridith Edwards, Omar Jimenez, Travis Caldwell and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.