A Uvalde, Texas, "negotiator" was trying to get the mass shooter on the phone while he was murdering 19 children and two teachers in Robb Elementary School, Uvalde Republican Mayor Don McLaughlin told The Washington Post.
The shooter did not answer, and the new detail comes amid heavy criticism responders left an active shooter in a school for around an hour – with children frantically calling 911 from the classroom.
"His main goal was to try to get this person on the phone," McLaughlin told the Post. "They tried every number they could find."
McLaughlin said he was standing next to the official he identified as "the negotiator" at the nearby Hillcrest Funeral Home around 15 minutes after "the first call" said the shooter crashed his truck.
The investigation into the mass shooter remains under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The response and delayed move on the shooter has been widely criticized for breaking active-shooter response protocol.
Uvalde, Texas, police chief Pete Arredondo has been under criticism for serving as the incident commander and failing to instruct law enforcement officials to move in on the shooter immediately.
While negotiating with a murderer on a mass shooting rampage might appear to be a waste of invaluable time, McLaughlin did not believe "the negotiator" was aware children were alive and calling 911 from the classroom.
There was also a report from a child in the classroom who said someone asked them to yell if they needed help, which led to the shooter to go execute the child who yelled for help.
The mayor added to the Post he did not hear gunshots from the time he arrived at the funeral home.
McLaughlin is not reluctant to criticize other politicians, regardless of party. Last week, he blasted Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke — calling him a "sick son of a b**h" — for interrupting GOP Gov. Greg Abbott during a news conference demanding answers on gun control. McLaughlin also has called Abbott a "fraud" for his border approach, denounced the Border Patrol's releasing illegals into Uvalde, and criticized Texas GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn for not responding to his calls, the Post reports.
The mayor now wants political parties to come together to pass new laws that "work for everyone."
"Both [parties] have an attitude of, It's my way or the highway," McLaughlin told the Post. "And that's not what we elected them for. We elected them to go up there and represent the American people, and that means you sit at a table and you sit down and you negotiate."
McLaughlin, who told the Post he has long pushed for a psychiatric hospital in Uvalde, supports expanded background checks on gun purchases.
"Why should any of us be afraid of expanding background checks?" he told the Post. "There's nothing wrong with that. I don't have anything to hide."
Amid the firestorm of local response, McLaughlin also broke from Abbott, saying "local authorities have not lied to anyone" and did not "mislead anyone."
"The briefing that the governor and the lieutenant governor and everybody else in that room," McLaughlin told the Post, "was given by the DPS, not local law enforcement.
"They've had three press conferences. In all three press conferences, something has changed."
As for Robb Elementary, the school year has ended. McLaughlin wants it never to reopen.
"I hope we tear it down to the ground," he told the Post. "I would never expect a teacher, a student, anyone to go walk back in that building."
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