AUSTIN, Texas -- Family members of victims killed in the Uvalde school shooting confronted Texas' police chief Tuesday in an emotional end to a day of protests at the state Capitol over gun laws.
Velma Duran, whose sister Irma Garcia was one of two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School last May, scolded Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw as other Uvalde residents and gun control supporters looked on inside a committee room at the Capitol, where McCraw prepared to leave after testifying to lawmakers.
Nineteen students were killed in the Uvalde attack, one of the worst classroom shootings in U.S. history. Duran briefly brought the hearing to a halt as she yelled from her seat to McCraw over law enforcement officers waiting more than an hour to confront the gunman who had an AR-15-style rifle inside the fourth-grade classroom.
“They stood around and enabled the shooter to obliterate my sister. You couldn't recognize her,” Duran said to McCraw. “Look at me!”
McCraw briefly leaned over to Duran, but it was not clear what he said before walking out of the committee room.
Brett Cross, the uncle of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, followed McCraw out and said later he had a brief conversation with the director in an elevator.
A spokesman for DPS did not immediately return a request seeking comment Tuesday about encounters with the family members of victims.
The unusual scene inside the Capitol happened just hours after a crowd of gun control supporters rallied outside. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and leaders of the state's commanding GOP majority in the Legislature have shown no support for passing new gun restrictions between now and May, during which is their first chance to pass new laws since the Uvalde attack.
McCraw has said he will not resign amid some Uvalde residents calling for his ouster.
He has called the broad response to the shooting an “abject failure” and seven state police officers were placed under internal review over their actions during the shooting. Four were cleared of wrongdoing and one resigned before the review was complete. Two were fired, with one currently appealing the decision.
Some audience members shouted at McCraw to step down as he left the room. Lawmakers sat quietly and listened as Duran continued to criticize them and police, while a Capitol staff member tried speaking to her.
A short time later, the hearing resumed.