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Rep. Castro 'lost confidence' in Uvalde officials. So he called the FBI

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today in Uvalde, Texas, questions continue to be asked about the law enforcement response to Tuesday's deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School. Families of the victims say police did not do enough to save their loved ones. And at least one official seems to agree. Today at a press conference, Steven McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety said that in hindsight, it was, quote, "the wrong decision for law enforcement to wait so long before entering the classroom where the shooter was." McCraw also said that 911 recordings show that a child in one of the locked classrooms was on the phone with 911 for an extended period. Texas Governor Greg Abbott had this to say about today's revelations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREG ABBOTT: As everybody has learned, the information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I'm absolutely livid about that.

CHANG: Earlier, I spoke with Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas. He's calling on the FBI to, quote, "investigate and provide a full report on the timeline, the law enforcement response and how 21 Texans were killed." I asked him what discrepancy from law enforcement that he has heard since Tuesday stood out the most to him.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Probably the most striking detail or changing version was that the shooter was at first confronted by a law enforcement officer who shot at him. And then in a matter of a day, that was completely reversed. And the story was that the shooter went into the school uninterrupted until later.

CHANG: Through an unlocked door, right.

CASTRO: Right. And, I mean, that is a major detail. And there have been other inconsistencies as well. And all of those things are just very troubling. And that's mostly what led me to ask the FBI to make sure that it maximizes its jurisdiction and authority and hopefully is able to take the lead on, if not all, most of this investigation.

CHANG: Another detail that has emerged is that the gunman was not killed until an hour after he was already inside the school. How does that particular detail strike you?

CASTRO: I was shocked that it took law enforcement that long to take down the shooter in the school. My impression is that they treated it like a hostage situation, where you don't want to antagonize the shooter because you're scared that if you do, they're going to harm people. But the problem with that theory, at least, is that they must have started hearing those gunshots at some point, knowing that he was shooting at people. In fact, they've said that he started firing off the gun before he even got into the school.

So at that point, tactically, you know that this isn't a hostage situation where somebody hasn't deployed a weapon and you're going to talk them away from the brink of doing so. Now you've got an active shooter. And the decision to sit there for 40 minutes or 45 minutes and not engage the shooter is one that I think a lot of Americans and a lot of Texans and, most of all, those families are having a real hard time accepting and understanding.

CHANG: Yeah. At what point did you decide it is time for the federal government to come in, to call for the FBI to conduct an investigation because you couldn't trust the local authorities in your own state?

CASTRO: Well, once I heard the story start changing from state authorities overnight and multiple times, I lost confidence in them being able to take the lead and offer the public and, most of all, offer the families of Uvalde a comprehensive and accurate accounting of what happened.

CHANG: Have you had any direct conversations with local or state law enforcement officials there? Have you told them, asked them to explain their discrepancies? And if so, what kind of answers have you gotten so far?

CASTRO: My staff has reached out to the Department of Public Safety for a briefing, but I have not received one. I understand that state legislators have been briefed by DPS. I have spoken to the FBI today and have been told that they are in the process of collecting every single piece of information and evidence that they can; a cellphone video, body cam video, the video from the school, video from across the street, the phone calls. So they're in the process of doing that now. And I reiterated to them that I would be most comfortable - and I think at this point, much of the public would be most comfortable - with the FBI taking the lead in this investigation.

CHANG: Do you have any reason to feel that officials have been deliberately untruthful in your state?

CASTRO: I can't say one way or the other at this point. But every possibility needs to be investigated, along with an accurate account of what happened with the shooter and how victims ended up dead.

CHANG: What are you ultimately hoping that the FBI can clarify?

CASTRO: I think at a base level, I just want them to be able to give the public a true and accurate account of what happened. That's what the families want. They don't want three or four different versions of the facts. They don't want anybody shying away from the truth for whatever reason. That's what I think the FBI can provide.

CHANG: That is Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. Thank you very much for your time today.

CASTRO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.
Kathryn Fox