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By Ray Sanchez and Chris Boyette | CNN

The families of the 19 children and two teachers gunned down at a school in Uvalde, Texas, have had enough.

More than a month after the massacre at Robb Elementary School, their anger and frustration at the lack of answers about the apparently bungled law enforcement response boiled over Thursday at an emotional City Council meeting.

“We’re sitting just here listening to empty words,” said Velma Lisa Duran, whose sister, teacher Irma Garcia, was killed trying to shield her students from the bullets.

“These kids were obliterated. My sister was obliterated. It was a closed casket. I couldn’t hug her. I couldn’t touch her. I couldn’t say my last goodbye,” Duran said, fighting back tears.

Since May 24, authorities have changed their account multiple times of key facts about what happened inside the classrooms and what police did during the time the 18-year-old gunman wreaked his carnage.

“The fact that you’re sitting there doing s— is really infuriating,” Duran told local officials, noting that families of the victims have had to “hold onto each other” for support.

For weeks, families of the victims and Uvalde residents have asked for explanations about why police took so long to enter the school, and why authorities didn’t act on concerns about the gunman’s behavior.

Indeed, questions over the police response have compounded the pain of grieving families, especially when they specifically learned the gunman remained inside classrooms from 11:33 a.m. until 12:50 p.m. — when, officials said, officers finally breached a door and killed him.

A key question has been whether some children could still be alive if police had followed mass shooter procedures recommended since the Columbine school massacre in 1999 to take down the assailant as soon as possible.

One official who could answer questions about the law enforcement response, Uvalde school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, was not at Thursday’s meeting.

Arredondo, who was sworn in as a city council member weeks after the massacre, led the flawed law enforcement response to the school shooting but has largely remained out of the public eye.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed him on leave last month. Arredondo testified behind closed doors in Austin recently before a Texas House committee looking into the massacre.

Arredondo could be voted out, per the city charter, if he misses the next council meeting, his third consecutive absence.

“I don’t think there’s anybody up here that will tell you that we won’t take the action that we need to take,” McLaughlin said.

CNN has contacted Arrendondo’s attorney for comment.

On Thursday, the people the residents of Uvalde elected to represent them had no answers for their constituents.

“The one thing I can tell you is, we don’t know anymore,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said at the meeting, adding that he, too, was frustrated at the lack of transparency from investigators.

“We’re not trying to hide anything from you,” the mayor insisted.

Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee has said it “will take time” to complete investigative reports of the shooting and response, and she doesn’t expect that information for a while.

Relatives of the victims say they’re tired of excuses.

“We need something to happen now,” said Duran, who drove an hour and half from San Antonio to Uvalde for the meeting. “We need change. Enough is enough.”

The children of Uvalde are afraid to return to their classrooms, Duran and others said.

“These kids are not going to go back to school and it’s going to be on your hands,” Duran said. “This blood is on your hands because you failed to do anything.”

Angel Garza, whose daughter Amerie Jo Garza was killed in the shooting, on Thursday asked the mayor and other city leaders if they had children. He implored them to act as if their own children had been gunned down at Robb Elementary.

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“We want y’all to look at this — not as a mayor, not as a city council member,” he said. “Look at it as a dad, as a parent. Don’t do what you can do as a mayor. Go beyond that … What if it was your kid?”

McLaughlin has repeatedly expressed frustration with his inability to get answers about what happened from state public safety officials investigating the shooting.

“Ma’am, let me tell you something. I feel your pain. We all do,” the mayor told Duran at one point during the meeting.

Duran looked at McLaughlin. “No you don’t.”

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Tags: mr roadshow opinion columnists cartoons pac 12 hotline celebrities courts crime gun control guns mass shootings nation world police accountability law enforcement response families of the victims i couldn’t about what happened after the massacre at robb elementary school shooting school district council meeting gunned down at the lack national news answers on your hands the shooting the meeting on thursday

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Mehmet Oz blames gun violence on recreational marijuana, COVID-19 school closures

Oz's opposition to recreational marijuana is out of step with over two-thirds of Pennsylvanians who support legalization

Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, last week seemingly blamed increased gun violence on the legalization of marijuana and on COVID-19 school closures.

Oz made the comments on Sept. 30 in an interview with a reporter from a Pittsburgh television news station. The reporter asked Oz how he would reduce gun violence if elected to the Senate.

Oz replied, "I'll give you one concrete example of a policy that really makes it worse: legalization of drugs. If you look at Oregon — and this is a bill that they enacted into law in 2020, John Fetterman strongly endorsed it — but they legalized drugs, and murder rates went up 40%."

Oz did not provide any evidence for his linking of the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Oregon — passed by ballot measure in 2014, not 2020 — and an increased murder rate.

An NBC affiliate in Portland reported in 2021 that, according to police, increases in shootings in the city were attributable to crime, gang violence, and "disputes within the homeless community." They did not mention marijuana legalization as a factor.

The reporter then asked Oz about his position on banning assault weapons. Oz said that he wants to see what a recently passed bipartisan gun reform law "accomplishes" and then immediately pivoted to the issue of mental health:

But I'll tell you, I like the fact there's money being invested in mental health services. What I'm seeing all over Pennsylvania is kids who weren't in school for a year or two floundering, losing their grounding, and then becoming willing to play with guns, use guns in ways that none of us would have ever accepted. And it's the normalization of that that, I think, is leading to a lot of the crime.

School shootings, however, took place long before the COVID-19 pandemic led schools to switch to online teaching in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

For example, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut took place in 2012, eight years before any COVID-19 school closures. And the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took place in 2018, two years before any COVID-19 school closures.

Marijuana is not legal in either Connecticut or Florida.

While Oz denounced the legalization of recreational marijuana, polls show voters overwhelmingly support it.

Polling from Civiqs last posted on Oct. 2 found 69% of Americans support legalizing weed. The same poll found majorities support legalization in almost every state in the country, including 68% of Pennsylvanians.

What's more, Oz has flip-flopped on support for gun safety legislation since entering the race for Senate.

In 2018, he supported a federal ban on assault rifles, before walking back that position. In 2019, he supported so-called "red-flag" laws, which give law enforcement officers the right to confiscate weapons from those deemed to be a threat to themselves or others, but has since said he will vote against any red-flag laws if elected to Congress.

Oz is seeking to keep Pennsylvania's open Senate seat in GOP hands. The seat is up for grabs after incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, who first won it in 2010, chose not to run for reelection.

Oz is facing off against Democrat John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor of the state, who supports legalizing cannabis.

Polls show Fetterman with a 6-point lead, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. However, Fetterman's lead has narrowed in recent days as Election Day nears.

Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race a "toss-up."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation

  • TAGS
  • 2022 midterms
  • 2022 senate
  • Dr. Oz
  • gun violence
  • John Fetterman
  • marijuana legalization
  • Mehmet Oz
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Senate election
  • recreational marijuana
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