As public pressure mounts for more information on the deadly Uvalde school shooting, Texas officials may use a legal loophole to block records from being released — even to the victims’ families — once the case is closed, the Associated Press reports. Since the May 24 shooting that left 19 kids and two teachers dead, law enforcement officials have provided little or conflicting information, sometimes withdrawing statements soon after making them. State police have said some accounts were preliminary and may change as more witnesses are interviewed. A number of questions remain unanswered: Why did police take more than an hour to enter the classroom and confront the gunman? What do body cameras show? How did police communicate with one another and the victims during the attack? Why did dozens of officers gather outside the classroom, yet refrain from pursuing the shooter?
Lawyers and advocates for the victim’s families are beginning to fear they may never get the answers if authorities close the case and rely on the exception to the Texas Public Information law to block the release of any further information. “They could make that decision; they shouldn’t have that choice,” said state Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, who wants to amend the loophole. “To understand what our government is doing should not be that difficult — and right now it is very difficult.” The law’s exception protects information from being released in crimes for which no one has been convicted. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has ruled that it applies when a suspect is dead. Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old man responsible for the mass killing at Robb Elementary School, was fatally shot by law enforcement. The loophole was created in the 1990s to protect those wrongfully accused or whose cases were dismissed, says Kelley Shannon of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “It is meant to protect the innocent.”