Nearly a month after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, Mayor Don McLaughlin announced that the building is set to be demolished.
During a city council meeting on Tuesday evening, McLaughlin said that the Robb Elementary would be destroyed, telling attendees, “"My understanding — I had a discussion with the Superintendent — that school will be demolished. We could never ask a child to go back, or a teacher to go back, into that school ever."
The school in Uvalde, located about 85 miles west of San Antonio, enrolled 535 children this year, and taught 2nd through 4th grade. The shooting occurred during Robb’s last week of classes.
Uvalde is taking similar steps to other cities where school shootings took place. After a shooter killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, school officials closed the building, according to NPR. In August of that year, students returned to class in other buildings on the school's campus and dozens of portable classrooms, while a new building on campus was constructed and dedicated in October 2020. About $25 million in funding for its construction was reportedly provided by the Florida state legislature.
Similarly, Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut — in which 26 people, including six and seven year olds, were killed in December 2012 — was demolished in 2013. The new Sandy Hook school opened in 2016, nearly four years after the tragedy.
In recent weeks, Uvalde residents and the victims’ families have been demanding answers over reports that police were slow to intervene on the day of the Robb Elementary shooting. The select information being leaked by authorities and a general lack of transparency “continues to create chaos in our community and keeps the whole truth from coming out,” McLaughlin said at the meeting.
According to CNN, he went on to say that the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Col. Steven McCraw, places blame on local and school district law enforcement, namely Uvalde school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, yet directs attention away from his own division.
"The officers had weapons; the children had none," McCraw said during the hearing. "The officers had body armor; the children had none. The officers had training; the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds. That's how long children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued."
Among other leaks, surveillance video from the scene seemingly indicates that officers did not even try to open the likely already unlocked school doors and instead waited for more than an hour to receive keys to the classrooms.
“What matters to Uvalde is that these brokenhearted families and this grieving community get a full investigation and an accurate report of what happened that day,” McLaughlin said. “The petty infighting, the clickbait headlines and the politically motivated scapegoating is not helping anyone. It is dividing a community and further frustrating grieving families.”