Monday night’s school board meeting in Uvalde saw a divide among residents. Some were outside supporting and cheering on Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell, while the families of the victims of the May 24 mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers were inside demanding accountability from him.
Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son, Uziyah Garcia, died during the mass shooting, spoke during the meeting’s open forum about the lack of support from Uvalde residents.
“I will say this, if it had been 17 white kids, all of those people out there would have been in here,” he said. “All of our kids matter.”
Through tears, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, was also killed, spoke as well. She said Harrell was her youth basketball coach.
“I am disgusted by this community,” she said. “How dare you decide now when a job is at stake to come together, but you stay home as we, the families, have been demanding transparency and accountability. How dare you attack those of us who lost our children in the worst way possible.
“For the individuals who spent the weekend bashing 21 grieving families, go home and hug your kids and be glad that you can because I’ll be at the cemetery because that’s the closest I can get to my baby.”
People outside the school board meeting held signs in support of Harrell. One read, “Thank you Dr. Harrell. We stand with you and we are sick of the blame game.”
Mata-Rubio called the show of support “disgusting” on Twitter.
On Friday, Harrell announced he would retire, but only after the victims’ families called for him to be fired after he hired Crimson Elizondo as a UCISD police officer. Her hire made headlines when CNN uncovered that she had previously worked as a Department of Public Safety officer and was under investigation because of her role on the scene on May 24.
Body camera footage shows Elizondo saying to another police officer, “If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that.”
Harrell will continue his role as superintendent through the school year. BuzzFeed News reached out to Harrell and UCISD but has not heard back.
For more than a week, Cross and other victims’ families camped outside the UCISD administration office demanding all of the school district’s police officers be suspended. After 10 days, UCISD finally relented and suspended the police officers.