The elementary school in Texas where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults will be demolished, according to the local mayor.
Don McLaughlin told a council meeting in Uvalde on Tuesday that it was his “understanding” that Robb elementary school would be razed and a new school built for its nearly 600 pupils after the tragedy in May.
“My understanding – and I had this discussion with the [school district] superintendent – is that school will be demolished. You can never ask a child to go back, or teacher to go back, in that school ever,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin did not say when the demolition might go ahead.
The school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut where 26 people were killed in a mass shooting in 2012 was demolished and a new school built on the site.
The mayor’s comments came amid mounting public anger about the police response to the shooting on 25 May and how heavily armed officers waited for 70 minutes after arriving at the school before they stormed the classroom where the shooter was holding out.
Speaking at a state hearing investigating the incident, Steve McCraw, Texas’ public safety chief, called the police response “an abject failure and antithetical to everything” known about how to respond to such crises.
McCraw said the local police chief, Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who was the on-scene commander, held back other officers from stopping the intruder sooner and potentially limiting the carnage.
Arredondo “decided to place the lives of officers over the lives of children”, McCraw said.
“The officers had weapons – the children had none. The officers had body armor – the children had none. The officers had training – the subject had none.”
An attorney for Arredondo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McLaughlin on Tuesday pushed back some on McCraw’s testimony. The mayor said officers from McCraw’s agency were also on scene, and the public safety chief was covering for them.
Meanwhile, Texas state senator Roland Gutierrez on Wednesday sued McCraw’s department in hopes of forcing the agency to release records detailing the particulars of the law enforcement response at Robb on the day 21 were killed and another 17 were wounded there.
Gutierrez said his lawsuit is aimed at short-circuiting “misinformation and outright lies” from officials whose public statements about the massacre at Robb have evolved as time has passed.
“The state of Texas failed 21 Texans, their families, and countless others touched by the tragedy,” Gutierrez said. “We must not fail these families again with cover-ups and misinformation.”
The outpouring of angst about the Uvalde massacre, along with outrage at the racially motivated shooting dead of 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York 10 days earlier, has led to another push for some kind of federal gun control legislation.
On Tuesday, US senators announced agreement on a gun violence bill which would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It would also disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.