'What if it was your kid?’: Uvalde families demand answers in impassioned council meeting

·3 min read

Anguished parents and exasperated residents demanded details about the investigation into the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School at an emotional Uvalde City Council meeting in Texas on Thursday night.

The sister of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers killed by a gunman along with 19 children in the May 24 shooting, expressed her frustration over hearing nothing about the investigation more than a month after the massacre. The woman did not identify herself by name, but mentioned that Garcia was her sister.

“Nobody is giving us answers,” she said at the meeting. "It’s been over a month. You have no idea how frustrating this is, and we’re sitting here listening to empty words."

She also cried as she described enduring her sister's death. Garcia's husband also died of a heart attack in the wake of her death.

"These kids were obliterated," she said. "My sister was obliterated. It was a closed casket. I couldn't hug her. I couldn't touch her. I couldn't say my last goodbye."

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told residents he has no new information and that the city cannot share anything with the public due to the ongoing investigation. He told the crowd that city officials were informed by the Texas Department of Public Safety that they could be prosecuted if the council releases any details of the investigation, according to the Texas Tribune.

"We’re not trying to hide anything from you," he said at the meeting. "We’re not trying to do that. We don’t have anything. DPS has tied our hands."

State officials are not providing any new details on a timeline for the investigation.

A man who did not give his name but said he was a parent pleaded with McLaughlin for any help. He wore a maroon T-shirt with the name "Amerie Jo Garza" on it in reference to a 10-year-old student who was killed by the gunman.

"We want you all to look at this — not as a mayor, not as a City Council member. Look at it as a dad!" he said. "Don't do what you can do as a mayor, go beyond that! I know there’s a limit on what you can do. Go beyond that! What if it was your kid?!"

Uvalde parent Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, demanded answers about the absence of the district's police chief at a council meeting. (TODAY)
Uvalde parent Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, demanded answers about the absence of the district's police chief at a council meeting. (TODAY)

Multiple family members also demanded to know why school district police Chief Pete Arredondo was absent from the second straight council meeting.

Arredondo, who was placed on administrative leave from his police chief job last week, was sworn in as a city council member just days after the shooting.

He has come under heavy criticism for his actions on the day of the shooting and the length of time it took authorities to enter a classroom and kill the gunman.

"The day it happened, everyone knows and are covering up," Irma Garcia's sister said. "Every agency failed."

Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, also questioned Arredondo's absence.

"We’re not here just to sit around," she said. "We are demanding answers. Show your face, answer our questions now!"