AUSTIN, Texas - The statehouse hearing into the Uvalde school shooting began Thursday with an acknowledgment of how important and how difficult the process will be.
"This isn't the new normal, it’s an epidemic and it’s an emergency. Another thing that I heard is this is a complicated issue no single thing is going to fix, but what we can’t accept is a do nothing attitude," said State Rep. Joe Moody.
Along with the El Paso Democrat, only two others were appointed to the committee. Republicans Rep. Dustin Burrows (R) of Lubbock, who is chairman, and former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
"And we are committed to investigating the facts and delivering some answers," said Guzman.
In announcing the committee last week on social media, House Speaker Dade Phelan said this about the three.
"They have the civil and criminal litigation experience needed to get it done. I know each of them to be diligent, thorough, and focused professionals whom I trust will do everything in their power to deliver facts and answers at a time when they are needed most."
He went on to say:
"Their findings will help inform the House's next steps on this matter."
The first person to testify was the head of DPS, Steve McCraw. He and his support staff spoke Thursday morning and left without talking to the media. It's not known what was said because all the testimony was done behind closed doors. Chairman Burrows is using the house executive session rule, claiming doing so will protect other ongoing investigations.
"I want to assure those watching the answers and solutions will come and we will work as quickly as possible to get to that point," said Burrows.
Some of those who came to the Capitol Thursday to listen to the testimony didn’t know it would be closed. Noel Johnson, who works in law enforcement, said he understood the reason for the secrecy.
"I can see the importance of the executive sessions because what is going on, the investigations, everything is so new that there may be things that it’s critical to get the answers correct before going to the public. I know that’s hard for the public sometimes, but it is very important," said Johnson.
Texas Democrats, in a statement Thursday, incorrectly claimed the hearing was focused on mental health. The statement from Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Jamarr Brown dismissed the State House Hearing with the following comments:
"This hearing comes during one of the hottest weeks in recent memory for the majority of Texans – with an electric grid on the precipice of another mass failure. It comes as Texan families are paying sky-high prices at the pump, with their Republican representatives in Washington refusing to even vote against price gouging by the oil companies."
After the hearing, chairman Burrows declined to describe what he heard except to say he is happy with how this first day went. Another hearing will take place next week and, at some point, a preliminary report will be issued.
Meanwhile, Thursday afternoon Governor Greg Abbott directed TEA to create a school safety chief position. Among the duties of that job is to make sure security mandates from the state are being done by all school districts.