Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw is being sued by more than 25 survivors of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas. McCraw is one of 19 defendants in a $27 billion class action lawsuit alleging mental harm.
Other defendants in the lawsuit filed this week include local lawmakers and senior law enforcement officials, many of whom are already facing federal charges from other shooting survivors and one victim’s mother. This is the first lawsuit naming McCraw and Texas DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon for their roles in police response during the massacre that killed 21 people.
“People are hurt, their children are hurt,” Charles Bonner, the case’s lead attorney, said in a news conference Wednesday. “They don’t know what to do and there is nobody to help them.”
The federal lawsuit, filed in Del Rio, Texas, is the first class action lawsuit filed in the wake of the massacre and the first to seek a specific amount of damages. It is the third federal lawsuit to emerge from the tragedy and the second filed by a group of survivors. The plaintiffs were students, teachers and school bus drivers at Robb Elementary on the day of the shooting. Lawyers say they are trying to add other plaintiffs to the lawsuit as well.
“This $27 billion lawsuit is designed to let them know that we value the lives of our children,” Bonner said. “We have to have enough money to get their attention.”
Victims’ families confronted McCraw at a public safety hearing in Austin in October, urging him to resign.
“If you are a man of your word, you will resign,” said Brett Cross, father of 10-year-old Robb Elementary school victim Uziyah Garcia.
McCraw said that DPS as an institution did not fail during filming.
DPS did not respond to requests for comment on this lawsuit.
Bonner said he met with many of the surviving families at a church in Uvalde earlier this week and heard their stories.
Many children who witnessed the shooting have changed since then, he said. Some have trouble sleeping, others have started wetting their pants, and many can no longer be alone.
Teachers who have placed students in classrooms and closets are also traumatized, he added.
“Their brains are now permanently damaged,” Bonner said. “The brain is a physical organ, just like the leg or knee, and it’s now permanently injured.”