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Uvalde police agree to cooperate with probe of response to school shooting, Texas lawmaker says

Law enforcement response is at the center of the ongoing investigation of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, where 19 children and 2 teachers were slain.
A City Mourns As Texas Shooter Kills 18 Elementary School Children, One Teacher
Law enforcement outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022, the day after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting.Eric Thayer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Uvalde city police agreed to cooperate with state investigators evaluating the law enforcement response to last month's school shooting, Texas officials said Friday.

State Rep. Dustin Burrows, chairman of a special legislative committee investigating the deadly attack, said late Friday afternoon that talks with the city had finally yielded an agreement.

"We had several conversations today with the city of Uvalde, the city of Uvalde Police Department. We are going to actually have witnesses testifying to us from their department. They have agreed to that," Burrows said.

"It took a little bit longer than we initially had expected, but those conversations did develop through the day and so they are going to be cooperating with that."

The committee hearings are set to continue in Uvalde on Monday and then shift to Austin on Tuesday.

A representative for the Uvalde Police Department could not be immediately reached by NBC News for comment on Friday.

It’s been little more than three weeks since gunman Salvador Rolando Ramos, 18, broke into Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers.

The carnage ended more than an hour after it started, when a Border Patrol tactical unit finally broke into a classroom where Ramos was holed up and killed him.

Much of the post-shooting attention has been on the response of local law enforcement and decisions made by Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief.

The embattled law enforcement head, whose actions are being reviewed by both state and federal authorities, has kept a low profile since the shooting.

But he pushed back at criticism last week, telling the Texas Tribune that there was no way for his officers to have confronted Ramos any sooner.

Earlier on Friday, Burrows said his committee would be taking closed-door testimony on from Robb Elementary teachers, and at least one school district police officer is on tap to appear.

“We were going to be able to visit with some of the Uvalde ISD police department. One of the witnesses was not able to actually make it," Burrows said Friday. "They’re going to come again on Monday. So it’s not that they’re avoiding us. They’re just going to be (appearing on) Monday, which is a better day for them. "

The committee chairman added: "But they have been fully cooperative, continue to cooperate, made themselves available all up and down the ladder."  

Before city police had agreed to cooperate, Adrian Alonzo, an uncle of one of the slain students, Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 9, said Friday that the city’s police department must meet with the panel, whether it’s publicly or in an executive session, “otherwise it makes you think they have something to hide.”

“Our family was affected by what happened, and nothing is going to bring my niece back, whether police testify or not,” Alonzo told NBC News. “But I want them to learn from what happened and to prevent it from happening again.”

Alonzo, who has an 11-year-old son in Uvalde schools, said he’s a gun owner and has always supported police. But the carnage that occurred in his hometown, Alonzo said, has led him to be more critical of law enforcement and he now supports background checks and stricter gun control legislation. 

“The safety of our children is in question. Can we trust this local police department to keep our children safe?” he asked. “I still support police. I ‘Back the Blue.’ I’m behind them, but as a citizen of Uvalde, I need to ask: Why does it seem like they aren’t cooperating?”

Robert Mac Donald, the police chief of Uvalde from 2010 to 2013, said the current police department is likely getting their “version of events” together, but they must be forthcoming with investigators and ultimately, the public.

“The citizens of Uvalde are entitled to the truth — the raw truth. But they’re also entitled to a reset and to know this isn’t going to happen again,” Mac Donald said. “That’s the only way this community will heal.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, a member of this investigative committee, said every eyewitness account will be crucial in painting the most complete picture of the May 24 attack.

"The truth is that one person’s truth can be very different from another person’s truth,” said said in Spanish. “We want to get to the facts as they are, the facts are what they are.”

Committee members visited Robb Elementary before their meeting on Friday. The district has already said it does not plan to open that campus again for instruction.

"The gravity of what we saw doesn’t have ... words ... to adequately describe the tragedy, what we saw, and what the families are suffering," Guzman said.