Connect with us

News

Who is the Uvalde Assistant DA? And who — if anyone — will she prosecute in the school-shooting probe?

Christina Busbee prosecuted criminals in Uvalde using nicknames like “Righteous” and “Cartel”. She crossed paths with members of the Latin Kings and Mexican Mafia gangs and helped take them down in h

Published

on

Uvalde Assistant District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee served as a prosecutor in the Latin Kings and Mexican Mafia Gangs, bringing criminals with nicknames like “Righteous” and “Cartel” to justice.

After being elected district attorney for Uvalde County, she is now in charge of the investigation into last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in which 26 children and six adults were killed, as well as the delay of more than 70 minutes in confronting the gunman.

The Republican prosecutor, once praised by the FBI for her efforts to combat cross-border crime, is now under fire for allegedly obstructing the public’s right to know what happened on that late-spring day.

It is possible that no one, including the officers who were taking cover in the hallway outside of the two fourth-grade classrooms that had been turned into killing grounds, can be held criminally responsible, according to other former prosecutors. An 18-year-old Uvalde resident named Salvador Ramos shot and killed 19 students and two teachers, injuring another 17 people.

Advertisement

Mostly, Busbee, 55, has remained silent as the families of the victims, her community, the media, and legislators have called for an end to the cover-up. Despite the fact that other officials did not object to the release of information, she was accused of obstructing its release.

The following is from the website ExpressNews.com: During the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, students had to wait an hour or more to enter classrooms, according to a video.

State House committee chair Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, asked for permission from Texas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) to release a portion of a video showing officers in a hallway while the shooter was still alive and shooting victims. There would be no evidence of dead or injured students or teachers in the recording.

Freeman Martin, the deputy director of DPS’ Homeland Security Operations, wrote in a letter that “we do not believe its public release would jeopardize our investigation.” Release of this video would actually help us provide the public with more transparency while not interfering with the investigation in the same way that an immediate public release of all evidence would. “

Advertisement

“She has objected to the release of the video and instructed us not to do so,” DPS said after consulting with Busbee.

In the end, the recording was made public. The hallway surveillance footage was broadcast on Tuesday by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE, an ABC affiliate in the Austin area.

It shows police arriving quickly and approaching two classrooms where the gunman was firing. After being fired upon, the officers flee and don’t return for over an hour.

At 12:50 p.m., a “stack” of officers entered classroom 111 and shot and killed Ramos. Border Patrol agents Chris Merrill, Paul Guerrero, and John Becker, as well as two off-duty deputies from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office and the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office, were among the group, the Express-News reported on Friday. In a brief firefight, another Border Patrol officer, Wayne Jackson, was grazed by the gunman.

Advertisement

He plans to release the video on Sunday after the families have seen it, Burrows said. The preliminary report of the House committee on the shooting and the ineffective police response will be made public as well.

Bill Blagg, a former prosecutor in Bexar County, Texas, asked, “How in the world is the DA going to be negatively impacted by disclosing things that happened in public?” The question is, “Who in the world is she going to prosecute if she doesn’t move forward?”

As a former federal prosecutor for the Western District of Texas, which includes Uvalde, I can tell you that if there is public pressure for accountability and transparency, then the best cure for the problem might be to shed some light on it.” Public interest sometimes trumps the interests of the district attorney.

It’s unclear why Busbee, who oversees the 38th Judicial District, which includes Uvalde and Real counties, wants to keep the details of the massacre and the police response to it secret.

Advertisement

Not everyone is surprised by the news. They describe her as an astute lawyer who, when she speaks her mind, comes across as harsh.

An assistant district attorney in Uvalde who was hired in 2011 by former Uvalde DA Daniel Kindred described the new hire as intelligent and talented. “She’s an excellent lawyer and did an excellent job,” said the judge.

When Karen Brickey, a longtime friend of Busbee’s from their time in elementary school in Boerne, spoke to Busbee, she described her as a straight-talker. Women in high positions often get a bad rap for being brusque and hard-edged, and she is no exception. In other words, her gender influences how people perceive her words and actions.

Most people who hold authority positions in Busbee’s position are men, many of whom portray themselves as tough guys.

Advertisement

It’s easier to trust a man’s judgment when he presents the facts in a straightforward manner, according to Brickey. We are looked at differently when a woman does it. “She strikes me as a strong individual.”

Diana Olvedo-Karau, a 63-year-old Uvalde community activist, said she met Busbee while running for district attorney two years ago.

Aside from the fact that I was involved in the campaign process at the time and had the opportunity to meet with and get to know her, I have the impression that she is not a people person,” Olvedo-Karau said of the candidate. “She doesn’t seem like the kind of person you’d want to meet, more of an introvert.”

Her response was, “It’s difficult for her to participate,” she said. When it comes to public office, “it can be a hindrance.”

Advertisement

Clashes

Among Busbee’s fiercest critics are Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr. and Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez. As a result, they’ve recently requested that Gov. Greg Abbott remove her from the position of managing a $5 million fund for victims of the mass shooting.

“They go out there to see her, she’s rude to them, she won’t talk with them,” McLaughlin said.

People have complained to him that they asked for money to pay their bills, but they never received it.

Advertisement

He and Gutierrez asked Abbott to put the money into the Texas Division of Emergency Management. In any case, that was the governor’s decision.

Busbee told the Uvalde County Commissioners Court on Monday that the state-granted fund is not permitted to make grants directly to victims.. Those in Uvalde who were affected by the mass shooting are receiving counseling through the funds.

McLaughlin and Gutierrez have also slammed Busbee for her decision to limit the investigation stemming from her office.

DPS director Steven McCraw told Senate committee in June that Busbee instructed DPS not to release any information about the investigation to Gutierrez, a Democrat from Uvalde’s senate district.

Advertisement

Uvalde massacre: A reconstruction of how it all went down is linked to this.

Busbee called Turner and three other attorneys on June 6 to handle the “volume of information” that resulted from the investigation, Turner said. Tonya Ahlschwede, Audrey Louis, and Nelson Barnes, a former prosecutor, are among those who serve as district attorneys in rural areas near Uvalde County.

A Democrat who worked as a prosecutor for the Texas Attorney General’s office after a three-decade tenure as the top prosecutor in Brazos County said, “There’s just such an overwhelming amount of work that she just kind of called in and asked for help.”

It was Busbee’s request after a visit from the Express-News contacted some of her family members to gather biographical information. There had been threats against her and others at the office and some of the people she was related to because of false statements made by politicians.

Advertisement

“The focus of this horrific event that my community has suffered should be on the deceased victims, their families, the injured and their families, the trauma suffered by the children of Robb Elementary and the overall Uvalde Community, and of course, the investigation,” she wrote in a statement. “I sincerely apologize if my demeanor came across as rude to anyone during this tragic event.”

That investigation, she said, “is pending, and I intend to conduct a thorough review of it.” The investigation should be completed, and I’d appreciate some time to do my job once it’s done.

She lowered her gaze, her face expressionless.

Since moving to Uvalde more than a decade ago, Busbee has remained largely unknown outside of her home county. She’s also a mystery to some in her hometown of Uvalde.

Advertisement

Originally from Boerne, she has since made Bergheim her home. At one point in her life, she worked at George Candido Tejeda Mitchell’s dry cleaning business in Boerne, which he owned. George Candido Tejeda Mitchell was descended directly from the Canary Islanders who came to San Antonio and settled there.

In 1996, she graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio with a law degree, and in 1997, she began practicing law in Boerne, where she first gained trial experience.

For fifteen years, Busbee worked as a lawyer in Kendall County and the surrounding Hill Country, specializing in family, business, and criminal litigation and appeals. According to her LinkeIn profile, she also taught mock trials to high school students in the Boerne school district.

Since moving to the area, she has remained a member of parent-teacher organizations in both Uvalde and Boerne. A San Antonio radio station proclaimed her “Woman of the Year” in 2010.

Advertisement

“She was always great, legal-wise,” said Karen Brickey, the former Boerne classmate. With Busbee at the helm of her split, she had peace of mind.

“It wasn’t just the legal aspects. ” For Brickey, it was the center of his universe. To have words that were not just about money, money, money was a refreshing change.” She genuinely cared about me and my children.

Scott Milgrom ended up on the opposing side of Busbee, his wife’s lawyer, in another divorce case. Busbee was intimidating to him.

‘She was a bulldog,’ Milgrom recalled of her character. “At the time, I was wishing she were my lawyer.”

Advertisement

The following is from the website ExpressNews.com: Embattled Uvalde council member Arredondo has resigned.

She has three children from a previous marriage and is married to former Uvalde assistant police chief Mark Busbee. In Boerne, her parents, brother, and sister still reside.

At the end of 2011, Kindred hired her with a grant for prosecuting crimes along the Texas-Mexico border and she moved to Uvalde, Texas.

When I worked in this position, I was involved in a four-year state and federal investigation involving the Latin Kings. ” Even though it was launched in Uvalde County, this investigation had a wide range of targets, including those in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston. To my satisfaction, I was able to secure the indictments of 31 Uvalde County residents, all of whom were ultimately convicted.

Advertisement

A joint investigation between her and the FBI’s Del Rio office resulted in ten state indictments for drug and organized crime in Medina County, Texas.

Operation Lone Star prosecutions have been handled by her office in recent years. To combat human trafficking and drug trafficking, Abbott claims to have started the controversial program.

Busbee and her chief investigator, Shayne Gilland were honored by the FBI for their work in combating border crimes and transnational criminal organizations in October of 2020. Director Christopher Wray of the FBI presented them with certificates of recognition at the San Antonio office.

When her boss, Mark Haby, was elected to the position of district attorney in Medina County, Ohio, she decided to run for the position herself. In the November 2020 election, she ran unopposed and received 7,694 votes. In January 2021, she was sworn in as the district attorney.

Advertisement

Defendants?

Busbee has a lot on his plate with the investigation into the school shooting. At least one investigator and an assistant district attorney are employed by her office, which has an annual budget of $432,400. To fill one of the border prosecutor positions, which pay $85,000, she is currently looking for someone.

When the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety finally hand over the case file, which is expected to take several weeks, she hasn’t publicly stated what her office plans to do with the information. Both the Ramos attack and how the officers responding to it are under investigation.

Former prosecutors said that in order to prevent witnesses from changing their statements in order to match recordings or what others have said, it is necessary to keep details of any investigation secret.

Advertisement

While much of the investigation has focused on the officers’ actions, prosecutors not involved in the case see an uphill battle to hold anyone criminally responsible since the shooter is dead.

It doesn’t appear that the officers who shot the gunman are being investigated, according to Jay Norton, a former assistant district attorney in Bexar County who oversaw criminal trial and law enforcement integrity units.

A justified shooting, according to Norton’s assessment of the evidence at hand.

It “appears to be a mistake” that the police took so long to respond, he added. In my opinion, it is not a criminal error.”

Advertisement

“There’s a lot of mistakes made,” said Norton, now a criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio. “It’s unfortunate, but a terrible mistake is not necessarily a crime.”

Mike McCrum, a defense lawyer who previously headed the drug and major crimes units at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio, said keeping evidence from the public during a criminal investigation is a no-brainer for prosecutors.

“There’s a valid reason for not disclosing recordings or other written statements prematurely,” McCrum said. “That said, it may be wise to explain why you’re not disclosing recordings. Sometimes, it’s not enough to say, ‘There’s a pending investigation.’ You have to explain why it’s important.”

guillermo.contreras@express-news.net | Twitter: @gmaninfedland | Staff Writers Sig Christenson and Jasper Scherer contributed to this story

Advertisement
Advertisement