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‘Our last chance for justice’: School employees, victims of Uvalde mass shooting begin giving testimony before grand jury

School employees and victims of the Uvalde mass shooting began giving testimony Friday before a grand jury investigating the failed police response at Robb Elementary School in 2022, according to several people familiar with the proceeding.

Investigators who responded to the scene and the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, have previously testified.

“This feels like our last chance for justice,” one of the victims told CNN on Friday morning.

The district attorney instructed witnesses appearing before the secret grand jury proceeding they were not to discuss their testimony publicly.

The testimony comes a week after the Uvalde City Council released an independent report clearing all local officers of wrongdoing.

An investigator hired by the city announced during a packed March 7 city council meeting all responding officers at the school on May 24, 2022, had acted in good faith and should be exonerated, to the dismay of many victims’ families and community members.

Reports from the US Department of Justice and the Texas House of Representatives had previously identified multiple failures with the law enforcement response on the day a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary.

The testimony on Friday also comes days after the abrupt resignation announcement of the city’s police chief, Daniel Rodriguez, on Tuesday.

Rodriguez, who said he will resign on April 6, had assigned Lt. Mariano Pargas to be acting chief in his absence on May 24, 2022.

Pargas responded to Robb Elementary within minutes but failed to act to save children trapped with the shooter or to take on a command role, CNN previously reported. The shooter went unchallenged in the school for 77 minutes.

Pargas resigned from the police department in November 2022.

Rodriguez has stood by officers who responded to the mass shooting and has not taken disciplinary action against them despite calls from families demanding he fire officers who waited in the hallway as the shooter was in a classroom, CNN previously reported.

The grand jury was expected to hear from several more victims and families of survivors later Friday.

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