UVALDE, Texas - The shooting Thursday night at an Uvalde park started as a fight between rival gangs, according to authorities.
"I know this has been, from talking to my officers. This has been an ongoing deal for the last six or seven months here, tit and tat with each other," said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.
Uvalde police stated Friday that four people were arrested:
- 17-year-old Donavan Hill was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and nine counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- 22-year-old Karlyn Alexander Valdez was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and endangering of a child
- 18-year-old Brandon Alba, who remained hospitalized Friday, will be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and nine counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
- A 16-year-old juvenile is also being charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and nine counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held at a juvenile detention center in Del Rio.
Mayor McLaughlin promised there will be a crackdown.
"If you're a gang member in our community, get ready because you're going to meet law enforcement, whether it be state, federal or local, where you're going to get we're going to know who you are, and you're going to know who we are," he said.
That crackdown is coming after an order issued Thursday by Gov. Greg Abbott who said in a statement:
"I have directed the Department of Public Safety to conduct patrol operations in the gang hotspots, send an additional six DPS trooper units to work around the clock, and begin coordinating an anti-gang effort with the city. Working with the Uvalde Police Department and Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, DPS is also deploying Special Agents to target the five gangs operating in Uvalde."
Friday morning, while in Austin recognizing first responders, Gov. Abbott did not mention the shooting in Uvalde. State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), who was also at the ceremony, spoke to FOX7.
"It's one thing to have, you know, gang activity, criminal activity, but to choose to do so in Uvalde, it's almost as if it's spitting in the face of the people of Texas and saying, you know, here we are. What are you going to do about it," said Sen. Birdwell.
Birdwell chairs the Senate border security committee. "I just wish we had as many troopers as we needed for every school and, you know, and every district in the state," he said.
Democrat gubernatorial challenger Beto O'Rourke also weighed in with this social media post, saying "We don’t have to accept this as our reality. The 21 families in Uvalde have told us how to reduce gun violence, but we need a governor who will follow their lead."
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State Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) also believes some type of gun reform should be done. "There has to be an answer," he said.
Walle was in Austin Friday to honor a law enforcement friend who was killed in the line of duty and has family from Uvalde. He also understands that reforming gun laws will be a difficult debate in the upcoming session. As for the governor's latest deployment order, he said it was a step in the right direction.
"But we have to, the trust among members of the Valley community and law enforcement, in my view, is broken. That community wants accountability. They deserve accountability. What that looks like, I don't know what it looks like, but they deserve every asset imaginable," said Walle.
Uvalde’s mayor also understands rebuilding trust has to be part of anything they do. "I know the trust is not there yet. But we will be there. We will not let this community down again," said McLaughlin.
Several Democrats continue to say the governor should call a special session to address gun violence. Political analysts say the upcoming November election would prevent any meaningful legislation from happening.