Uvalde mayor defends local police, says Lt. Gov. Patrick's claim that he was lied to is 'not true'

The mayor later said he misunderstood Patrick's statements and thanked him for the state's support

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As the criticism of the police response to last week's Texas school shooting deepens, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin now says that local law enforcement has not misled anyone and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's claims that he was lied to are "not true."

Immediately following the shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead, a slew of Texas officials praised the law enforcement response to the tragedy. 

"They showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference in Uvalde alongside Lt. Gov. Patrick on Wednesday, about 24 hours after the shooting. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, speaks during a news conference about the elementary school shooting with Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, right and Texas District Attorney at 38th Judicial District, Christina Mitchell Busbee, Friday, May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, speaks during a news conference about the elementary school shooting with Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, right and Texas District Attorney at 38th Judicial District, Christina Mitchell Busbee, Friday, May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.  (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

That praise was quickly recanted later in the week as more details about the police response came to light, including that 19 officers were inside the elementary school for about an hour before a Border Patrol team breached the classroom and killed the suspect. 

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Lt. Gov. Patrick told Fox News on Saturday that law enforcement's choice not to immediately confront the shooter was a "bad decision, and that decision cost lives," but later corrected himself on Twitter to say that the decision "may have" cost lives.

"No one mentioned the fact that there was this 45 minute-to-an-hour hold by the chief of the police of the school district while there were still shots being fired," Patrick said. 

"I take this personally, and I know the governor takes it personally. And for me, it's 140 or 150 people killed in Texas in the last six or seven years of collective anger when we're not told the truth."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and "began shooting anyone that was in his way," authorites said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and "began shooting anyone that was in his way," authorites said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Uvalde School District police chief Pete Arredondo was the incident commander on scene who made the "wrong decision" not to immediately confront the suspect because he "believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject," Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said. 

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Uvalde Mayor Dan McLaughlin said Monday that local law enforcement has not misled Patrick or any other officials. 

"Statements by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that he was ‘not told the truth’ are not true," McLaughlin said Monday. "All statements and comments made to date about the ongoing investigation are being handled by DPS/Texas Rangers."

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. 

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022.  (Pete Luna/Uvalde Leader-News/Handout via REUTERS)

Patrick responded on Monday that his "goal at this time is to support Mayor McLaughlin and the citizens of Uvalde."

"I think the Mayor has done an excellent job at a very difficult time and my focus continues to be on the families," Patrick said Monday. 

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The mayor said Tuesday that he misunderstood Patrick's statements and thanked the state for their support. 

"We appreciate the concern Dan Patrick has for the citizens of Uvalde and local law enforcement," McLaughlin said Tuesday. "I ask everyone to pray for us, the citizens of Uvalde as we grieve, and live through the pain, and the healing process."

A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. 

A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.  (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

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The Department of Justice announced Sunday that they are conducting an independent investigation into the police response at the request of the mayor. 

"The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events," the DOJ said in a statement.