Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw is among the defendants named in a $27 billion class-action lawsuit filed by survivors of the Robb Elementary School shooting. File Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A $27 billion class-action lawsuit filed by survivors of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary is the first to name Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw among 19 other defendants.
The May shooting in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 fourth-graders and two teachers dead, with members of the public calling for McCraw and others in law enforcement to be held accountable for their response. McCraw has refused to step down from his post, defending the actions of law enforcement on that fateful day.
While the deadliest school shooting in Texas history was taking place inside Robb Elementary, law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies waited 77 minutes before engaging with and killing the 18-year-old gunman.
The latest class-action lawsuit seeks to hold McCraw and others accountable, as well as get their attention, according to Charles Bonner -- the lead attorney in the case.
The survivors are seeking the large sum because of the psychological damages they have suffered, Bonner said during a press conference Thursday.
"This $27 billion lawsuit is to let them know that we value our children's lives," Bonner said. "We have to have enough money to get their attention."
According to Bonner, many of the children struggle to sleep, fear being left alone and show other signs of trauma as a result of the events in their elementary school.
"Their brains are now permanently injured," Bonner said. "The brain is a physical organ just like the leg or the knee and it's now permanently injured."
The lawsuit is also the first lawsuit to name DPS regional director Victor Escalon as a defendant.
Many of the defendants in the lawsuit are also facing federal lawsuits from survivors and family members of Robb Elementary students.
In a separate lawsuit, the city of Uvalde is suing district attorney Christina Mitchell to uncover records of the investigation into the police response on the day of the shooting, the Texas Tribune reported.
The suit alleges Mitchell is restricting information needed for an independent investigation. The city seeks to "compel" Mitchell to turn over all relevant information.
The city hired Jesse Prado of JPPI Investigations LLC to perform an internal affairs inquiry, but the suit says Prado's investigation is restricted by the evidence that has been provided thus far.
"Despite the city of Uvalde's efforts to amicably obtain the necessary investigative materials for its ongoing Uvalde Police Department's Internal Affairs investigation, the District Attorney has blocked the city's ability to obtain critical information to assess its officers' actions and compliance with police department policies and expectations," the city said in a statement.
"From day one, the city's focus is on helping the entire Uvalde community, parents who lost children, children who lost parents, and young survivors navigate through the healing process."
Mourners gather at a memorial of flowers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 30, 2022. A mass shooting days before left 19 children and two adults dead at the elementary school. Photo by Jon Farina/UPI | License Photo