The Texas state Senate heard testimony Tuesday on the deadly school shooting in Uvalde as part of a committee hearing on preventing future mass shootings in Texas. Among those testifying was Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, whose office is conducting one of multiple investigations into the law enforcement response to the massacre.
Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was the incident commander on site, was the lone witness in a separate hearing on the shooting held Tuesday in executive session by the Texas state House of Representatives.
McCraw concludes his testimony
After nearly five hours of testimony, the committee chairman of the Texas state Senate concluded Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw's portion of Tuesday's hearing.
The panel was scheduled to hear additional testimony from experts in Texas law enforcement training and protocols, with an eye toward preventing future mass shootings in the state.
McCraw recommends equipping troopers with 'go-bag'
Among the recommendations that Texas Director of Public Safety Steven McCraw made with an eye toward improving police response to future mass shootings was equipping all officers with a specialized "go-bag."
"I'd like a go-bag for every trooper, that has the shield that I discussed ... and certainly breaching tools. And then not just issued but trained on them," McCraw said.
Lawmakers question why state troopers ceded command to local police chief
Multiple state senators challenged Texas Director of Public Safety Steve McCraw to explain why arriving officers from larger law enforcement agencies did not take over command during the Uvalde shooting, instead leaving those responsibilities to Pete Arredondo, the local school district police chief.
McCraw explained that the agency with the most expertise should take command -- and that the school district police chief, in this circumstance, was the best person to deliver orders.
"I'm reluctant to encourage -- or even think of any situation -- where you'd want some level of hierarchy, where a larger police department gets to come in and take over that type of thing," McCraw said.
"I don't see why y'all didn't take command once you had DPS agents inside the hall pushing to breach the door," one state senator asked McCraw later. "Lives would have been saved."
"They don't have authority by law,” McCraw shot back.
State senator calls on chief to testify in public
New revelations from the Senate hearing have put an additional spotlight on Pete Arredondo, the embattled school district police chief who was the on-site commander during the Uvalde shooting but has largely remained silent in the wake of the mass shooting.
Arredondo has spent the day in the neighboring House chamber, testifying behind closed doors. A lawmaker on the state Senate panel called on Arredondo to appear before their committee in a public setting.
"I challenge this chief to come testify in public as to what happened here," said Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican on the state Senate committee. "Don't go hide in the House and talk privately -- come to the Senate, where the public … can ask these questions."
"Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children," Arredondo told The Texas Tribune on June 9. "We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat."