AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Department of Public Safety says the Uvalde County District Attorney's office is blocking the release of a 77-minute video that is part of the investigation into the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Texas DPS Deputy Director of Homeland Security Operations Freeman F. Martin says in a letter to state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) that while the video ends immediately before law enforcement breached the classroom, and it doesn't show any images of children, DA Christina Mitchell-Busbee has objected and instructed DPS not to release it.
Burrows, who is the chairman of the House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting, says he sent a letter Thursday to Director Martin requesting the public release of the video without the audio as part of the committee's preliminary report. Burrows says in the letter that the Committee cannot release the video without written permission to anyone outside the Committee due to an NDA with DPS signed on June 10.
In his response, Martin says that DPS believes "the video is likely to bring clarity to the public regarding the tragic events in Uvalde" and that they don't believe its public release would harm the investigation.
"In fact, releasing this video would assist us in providing as much transparency as possible to the public without interfering in the investigation in the manner that an immediate public release of all evidence would," says Martin in the letter.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin issued a statement Friday night in support of Burrows' request, saying:
"The City of Uvalde overwhelmingly supports the release of all videos including State Representative Dustin Burrows’ request to release to the public, the entire 77-minute hallway video from the May 24 Robb School shooting, up to the moment of the breach. We agree with Burrows that the video is likely to bring clarity to the public, to the families of victims and survivors."
In another statement Saturday, McLaughlin claims that DA Mitchell-Busbee has been "advising some families" that he is requesting video involving the children from the shooting. In the statement he says:
"I have been advised by several victim’s families that the District Attorney, Christina Mitchell-Busbee is advising some families that I, the Mayor, am requesting the release of video involving the children from the May 24 Robb School shooting. The District Attorney is not telling the truth. I have stated before and continue to assert that I have never wanted any video or audio released involving the children."
Burrows tweeted on Saturday morning that he and McLaughlin had spoken about the release and clarified what portions of the video they are asking to be released and which would be withheld.
"I spoke w/ Mayor McLaughlin this morning. We both want the hallway video showing the law enforcement response released," Burrows wrote. "The portions from before the shooter enters the room and after the breach would be withheld. Hopefully, this clarification addresses concerns being raised."
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This comes after Mayor Don McLaughlin and State Senator Roland Gutierrez sent a letter this week to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for DA Mitchell-Busbee to be removed from overseeing the victims' relief fund.
The letter describes families having issues with the District Attorney about victims' resources. One family apparently was in danger of having their power cut off while caring for their daughter in the hospital.
They're asking the Texas Department of Emergency Management be placed in charge of victims' resources.
FOX 7 Austin has reached out to DA Mitchell-Busbee for comment.