In the days and weeks since the mass shooting in Uvalde on May 24, as the spotlight has turned to gun control, the public has been focused on another aspect of the massacre: the lack of focus when it comes explanations about what actually happened.
The day after the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott, flanked by law enforcement and other top state officials, held a news conference providing details on what unfolded at Robb Elementary School, saying that officers with the Uvalde school district had “engaged with the gunman” outside the school before the shooter entered through a back door. He would later claim the information he had was false, saying he was “livid” about being “misled.” But misled by whom?
The Austin-American Statesman, through a public records request, obtained the notes that Abbott took after he was debriefed by law enforcement officials – the notes that the governor used at his May 25 news conference.
“What I found most interesting about the notes is what isn’t written in them,” said Caroline Ghisolfi, a data reporter for the Statesman. “During most of his speech on May 25th, Abbott read off his notes almost line by line. But his opening remarks, where he describes law enforcement’s response as fast and resolute, appear to have been off-script.”
“We now know that that was an inaccurate description: Law enforcement waited 70 minutes before confronting the gunman, and children were calling [from] inside the classrooms, asking police to enter.”
Abbott has maintained that his information came from public officials inside the briefing room before his press conference. But in his notes, “there is nothing about police responding quickly,” Ghisolfi said.
“It’s important to understand whether that narrative that the governor gave – that was misleading, that suggested that police officers reacted as they should have, very quickly – came from the governor himself or came from other officials,” she said. “We’re still trying to get to the bottom of why that initial timeline of events that the governor gave was, in many respects, very different from the timeline we now know after officials have made several corrections and more information has come to light. We are continuing to file a public records request and ask for more information so that we can shed light on what went wrong.”