Uvalde principal among witnesses as hearings for state probe into shooting begin

A state committee is investigating the deadly May 24 shooting.

June 17, 2022, 4:03 AM

The principal of the Texas elementary school that was the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history was among the witnesses who appeared before state lawmakers Thursday when they held the first hearing in a special investigation into the massacre.

The state committee is investigating the circumstances surrounding last month's shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Police officers, lawyers and a few community members joined state lawmakers at the Uvalde City Hall building on Thursday for the first day of hearings.

In her first public comments following the shooting, Robb Elementary principal Mandy Gutierrez told San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT she didn't have much to say at this time.

"It was just an information session. They're going to compile a report. And when that comes out, I may have more comment at that time," she told the station outside city hall Thursday evening.

PHOTO: Principal Mandy Gutierrez speaks to reporters outside a committee hearing on Robb Elementary shooting investigation, Uvalde, Texas, June 16, 2022.
Principal Mandy Gutierrez speaks to reporters outside a committee hearing on Robb Elementary shooting investigation, Uvalde, Texas, June 16, 2022.
KSAT

Gutierrez met with President Joe Biden when he traveled to Uvalde in the days after the shooting.

When asked how she was personally doing following Thursday's hearing, she said, "I'm just concerned for [the] families and my kids."

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed after a gunman entered the building through an unlocked door and opened fire in a classroom, the deadliest shooting at a public school in Texas history and the second-deadliest nationwide.

After 77 minutes, a tactical unit breached the classroom door and killed the gunman. Law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny for failing to act faster.

The probe will be an "objective and nonpartisan examination" of what happened, Texas state Rep. Dustin Burrows, chairman of the committee investigating the shooting, has said.

"I would say that the most respectful thing I think we can do is to try to get some of those lingering questions answered, for the people in this city," Burrows said Thursday.

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman emphasized the committee's commitment to their task "to gather the facts...to know the truth about the story." These facts, she said, "cannot be ignored, enhanced, or diminished."

Guzman continued that it is her "hope and prayer" that the committee "will produce the information the legislature needs to protect our children."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, Principal at Robb Elementary School, as first lady Jill Biden stands next to him, in Uvalde, Texas, May 29, 2022.
President Joe Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, Principal at Robb Elementary School, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade, as first lady Jill Biden stands next to him, in Uvalde, Texas, May 29, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Following public remarks, the executive session began, where witnesses were interviewed in private.

Witnesses testifying Thursday included Gutierrez and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District superintendent Hal Harrell, among other school staff. The hearings are scheduled to continue on Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials are also expected to testify, Burrows said last week.

The committee might produce a preliminary report for the public ahead of completing its full investigation, he said.

ABC News' Laura Romero, Gina Sunseri and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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