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Uvalde School Police Chief Defends Inaction By Claiming He ‘Didn’t Know’ He Was in Charge

Uvalde School Police Chief Defends Inaction By Claiming He ‘Didn’t Know’ He Was in Charge

The Texas school police chief criticized for his actions during one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history said in his first extensive comments that he “did not consider himself the person in charge” as the massacre unfolded and assumed “someone else” had taken control of the law enforcement response.

Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo told the Texas Tribune on Thursday that he also intentionally left behind both his police and campus radios before entering Robb Elementary School. In the more than two weeks since the shooting, Arredondo’s actions have come under intensifying scrutiny from both state officials and experts trained in mass shooting responses. Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said the school police chief, who he described as the incident commander, made the “wrong decision” to not order officers to breach the classroom more quickly to confront the 18-year-old gunman who had easily and legally obtained an AR-15. 19 children and two teachers were slaughtered behind a locked classroom door that the chief said was “reinforced with a steel jamb” and “could not be kicked in.”

[Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]
Poor radio communications are among the concerns raised about how police handled the May 24th shooting and why they didn’t confront the gunman for more than an hour, even as anguished parents outside the school urged officers to go in. Arredondo told the Tribune he believed that carrying radios would “slow him down” as he entered the school and that he knew that radios did not work in some school buildings, said he never considered himself the scene’s incident commander and did not give any instruction that police should not attempt to breach the building.

 

Arredondo told the Tribune that from the hallway of the school he used his cell phone to call for tactical gear, a sniper, and keys to get inside the classroom. He said he held back from the door for 40 minutes to avoid provoking gunfire and tried dozens of keys brought to him, but that they each failed to work. He also said he used that time to pray instead of breaching the classroom door where the gunman was terrorizing the children before murdering them.

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Read the full profile at the Texas Tribune.

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