Robb Elementary victims’ families voice disgust after independent investigator presents findings in Uvalde

Austin-area investigator Jesse Prado criticized by families, council members

UVALDE, Texas – The Uvalde City Council ended a special meeting on Thursday as Austin-area investigator Jesse Prado presented his independent investigation into the Uvalde Police Department’s response to the Robb Elementary shooting on May 24, 2022.

The council asked Prado, among other things, if there was any specific wrongdoing by any Uvalde police officers. Prado said the department did not commit any wrongdoing or violate any policy in its response to the elementary school.

Instead, Prado placed the blame on communication issues, crowds outside the school and officers not having the correct keys on hand.

During the meeting, Prado left the room, which angered members of the victims’ families. Minutes later, Prado returned. During the public comment portion of the meeting, victims’ families, including Kimberly Mata-Rubio and Brett Cross, voiced their disgust at the independent investigator’s leaving the room.

“Bring him back!” Rubio exclaimed several times. “I don’t want to hear an explanation. I want him back. Why did he leave?”

All who spoke were critical of the findings of the report, saying that there is no accountability for the responding law enforcement officers who failed to stop the shooter for more than 75 minutes.

Uvalde PD chief told families he would be relying on this report to make any decisions. The city will hold a regular meeting next Tuesday and will discuss the report’s findings, officials told KSAT.

Parents address Prado, City Council

When Prado re-entered the room, Rubio addressed him directly.

“How dare you! You were paid by them, and you just came out and -- what was that, a deposition? You said he was waiting to shoot them like video games? Of course, that’s why they line up. Is it not? So, the first one can take it, and the other students can take this person down.”

Rubio then addressed the city council and law enforcement, saying, “All I heard today was, ‘It’s the school’s fault.’ ... What you’re not fine with saying is that it’s y’all’s fault. Do what’s right -- terminate them, change policy. There are people in this department who will benefit from a policy change.”

Brett Cross, the guardian of Uziyah Garcia, brought with him Robb survivor AJ Martinez and had officials look at him directly.

“I want you to look at this child because this child survived. This child was shot, and he sat in there for 77 minutes while those f***ing cowards did nothing. You said that that was in good faith. And I’m going to reiterate that point. Good faith? Good faith is 77 minutes? The true heroes are those that passed, those teachers. The survivors are heroes.”

Veronica Mata, mother of Tess Mata, said there was nothing done in good faith to save her child.

“You said they did it in good faith. You call that good faith? They stood there for 77 minutes and waited after they got call after call. The kids were still alive in there. All this is is a pact. It’s a brothers’ pact. You protect your own. We’re gonna stand here, and we’re gonna keep fighting for our own because no one else is going to do it,” said Mata, the crowd erupting with claps in support.

After the public comment, the city council adjourned for an executive session. Before the meeting adjourned, at least two Uvalde city council members apologized to the family members and called Prado’s report “a disgrace.”

When asked by another victim’s family member why they could not ask Prado individual questions themselves, current Uvalde mayor Cody Smith said he would meet with the victims’ families privately and answer any questions for them after they read the report.

When the meeting adjourned, Prado left the room again. He was followed out by reporters and family members of the victims. He refused to answer questions.

Felicha Martinez, whose son Xavier was killed at Robb and whose birthday 12th birthday would have been on March 12, went to ask Prado a question, and he drove off without acknowledging her.

Investigation process

Then-mayor Don McLaughlin announced the investigation in July 2022.

The investigation was supposed to take 60 to 90 days to complete. Nineteen months later, it finally is.

KSAT 12 News asked McLaughlin on Tuesday about the reports’ upcoming release.

“It’s been too long coming. You know, we’ve been blocked, as you know, from the district attorney. We’ve had to sue her twice when I was mayor,” McLaughlin said.

In November 2022, the city stated it had no timeline for completing the review. The following month, McLaughlin announced a lawsuit against District Attorney Christina Mitchell because she was withholding information from the city’s independent investigator.

That lawsuit was then refiled in August 2023. McLaughlin alleged a cover-up happening in the DA’s office at the time because Mitchell’s chief investigator, Shayne Gilland, was “onsite on May 24 at Robb School.”

“From the smallest to the largest, we need to come clean, lay the cards on the table, and hopefully, we can find what mistakes we made and keep it from happening somewhere else,” McLaughlin said.

The release had those most impacted by the tragedy at Robb Elementary feeling on edge.

“I can’t begin to imagine my son, who had just turned 10 two weeks prior what he went through,” Oscar Orona said.

His son, Noah, is nearly two years older now but is still dealing with the physical effects of a gunshot wound to his shoulder and the mental trauma of being trapped with a gunman for 77 minutes inside his 4th grade classroom.

“What he went through and what he’s going to have to deal with for the rest of his life,” Orona said.

Noah is one of the handful of survivors from classroom 112.

His parents have joined others in calling for accountability following the May 24, 2022, tragedy at Robb Elementary School that left 21 dead.

READ MORE: Takeaways from Independent Expert Investigative Report on Robb Elementary shooting


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About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

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