Chairman of Texas House Committee pushes for release of hallway surveillance video

Jul 11, 2022, 3:35 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm
An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. (Allison Dinner/AFP...
An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. (Allison Dinner/AFP/Getty Images via CNN)
(Allison Dinner/AFP/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — The chairman of the Texas House committee investigating the Uvalde school shooting is pushing for the release of hallway surveillance video that shows what police were doing as a gunman remained inside adjoining classrooms for about 77 minutes.

Rep. Dustin Burrows, the committee chairman, said Monday that releasing the hallway footage would be important because the public would see the evidence for themselves.

“I can tell people all day long what it is I saw, the committee can tell people all day long what we saw, but it’s very different to see it for yourself, and we think that’s very important,” he said.

Burrows is prohibited from releasing the hallway video because he signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety, he said on Twitter on Friday. He attached two letters to his tweet. In one, he asked the DPS for permission to release the video to the public. The other is a response from the DPS saying that the agency agrees that the video will bring “clarity to the public regarding the tragic events in Uvalde,” but adds the Uvalde district attorney “has objected to releasing the video.”

His tweet states that the video he is pushing to release “contains no imagery of victims or footage of violence.”

Burrows also said the committee is looking to release a preliminary report on the shooting “sooner than later.” The report could be released within the next 10 days, a source close to the committee had previously said.

The video would offer primary evidence of what responding police were doing when a gunman opened fire inside adjoining elementary school classrooms on May 24, fatally shooting 19 young students and two teachers. A group of officers waited in a nearby hallway for over an hour before they breached the door and killed the gunman.

What officers were doing in those 77 minutes remains largely unclear, and some officials have questioned the trustworthiness of the various investigations working to understand what went wrong that day.

Last month, DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw criticized that delay as an “abject failure,” in part citing evidence from the hallway surveillance video.

What the video shows

Some images from the video were obtained by the Texas Tribune and Austin American-Statesman and showed that officers had tactical gear and significant firepower — including rifles and a tactical shield — well before they ultimately breached the door.

The video is “wrenching,” Tony Plohetski, a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman who has watched the surveillance footage told CNN.

The video begins shortly after the gunman entered the school at 11:33 a.m. In the video, the 18-year-old gunman enters a classroom and “you hear a hail of gunfire,” Plohetski said. Minutes later, a group of law enforcement officers arrive at the room and there is another exchange of gunfire.

“You see the police officers actually getting blown back. One of them actually touches his head,” and suspects an injury, he said.

Over the next hour of the video, officers converge on the scene and gear up with helmets, assault rifles, ballistic shields, and tear gas canisters. But they do not take action.

“Essentially they stand there for an hour as these minutes tick by,” he said. “It’s not until 12:50 that we then see those police officers move to that classroom, breach the door, and take down the gunman.”

The reporter said the video intensifies questions about the response from local, state and federal agencies on scene.

“As to why it was handled the way it did and why the police did not move with a greater sense of urgency, I don’t think we’ve gotten to the truth of that yet,” he said.

“This video, once it is finally made public, is going to be very disturbing to many people and, I think, really deepen the tragedy that happened that day,” he said.

DPS director testifies for second time

The House committee began its latest hearing Monday morning. The witnesses scheduled to testify were McCraw, Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco and John Curnutt, assistant director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

On Thursday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin refuted a new assessment of the law enforcement response to the shooting, saying the report by the rapid response training center — an active shooter and attack response training provider at Texas State University — “does not give a complete and accurate account of what happened.”

McLaughlin took issue with the first part of the report, which said a Uvalde police officer with a rifle spotted the gunman outside the school, but a supervisor either did not hear the officer or responded too late when the officer asked for permission to fire.

“No Uvalde police department officer saw the shooter on May 24 prior to him entering the school,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “No Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman.”

CNN has requested comment from Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee on Friday and on Sunday about why she objects to the release of the video, but has not heard back.

According to the same source, the Texas House Investigative Committee’s preliminary report will clarify conflicting accounts from previous reviews of what happened on May 24. The report will include verbatim quotes from sworn testimony, the source said.

Nolasco told CNN on Sunday his testimony would be through video-conference, not in person.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) created the three-member committee last month. Burrows, a Republican, was appointed chairman; Rep. Joe Moody (D) was appointed vice chair; and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is a committee member.

The purpose of the investigative committee is a fact-finding one. Two other House committees, Youth Health & Safety and Homeland Security & Public Safety, will be tasked with making legislative recommendations.

Separately, Uvalde County Commissioners on Monday unanimously passed a resolution calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session of the Texas Legislature to consider raising the minimum age of purchase for semi-automatic, assault style rifles from 18 to 21.

“Texans want to feel reassured that we can go to the grocery store, church, school, to the mall, and public events safely,” County Commissioner Roland Garza, who introduced the resolution, told CNN. “This might be a small step but something must be done. We want Governor Abbott to listen to us.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Lindsay Lohan visits "The Drew Barrymore Show" at CBS Broadcast C...
David Goldman

Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and others charged $400,000 for violating disclosure rules

The SEC charged Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and several other celebrities with failing to disclose that they were paid to promote crypto.
1 day ago
FILE - This 2021 photo provided by the St. Louis Zoo shows the zoo's Andean bear named Ben. The St....
Associated Press

Escape-artist Missouri bear heads to Texas zoo with moat

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes that it will put an end to his wandering. The St. Louis Zoo cited the “specific and unique personality” of the Andean bear named Ben in announcing the move Tuesday. His soon-to-be home at the […]
1 day ago
Helena Zappelli surveys the damage to her yard and vehicle after a large tree fell over, Tuesday, M...
John Antczak, Associated Press

Rare tornado near Los Angeles rips building roofs; 1 injured

A possible tornado Wednesday left a line of damage across roofs of commercial buildings in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello.
1 day ago
Alec Baldwin Set Shooting...
Associated Press

Workplace-safety sanction finalized in Alec Baldwin shooting

No one is objecting to a settlement agreement to resolve allegations of workplace safety violations in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie. After a 20-day vetting period with no objections, the agreement between New Mexico workplace safety regulators and Rust Movie Productions has been […]
1 day ago
The Federal Reserve Headquarters are pictured on March 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Federal Open...
Christopher Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

Fed raises key rate by quarter-point despite bank turmoil

The Federal Reserve extended its year-long fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate a quarter-point despite concerns that higher borrowing rates could worsen the turmoil that has gripped the banking system.
1 day ago
(Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources)...
Josh Ellis

Utah man bit by shark while swimming in Hawaii

A 62-year-old Utah man was taken to a Hawaiian hospital after he was bit twice by a shark while swimming off the Big Island.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Chairman of Texas House Committee pushes for release of hallway surveillance video