Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo has come under severe PR fire for his department’s response (or, really, the lack thereof) during the horrific massacre that bloodied the community and shocked the nation, with many blaming him for the sickening sight of seeing officers sit around doing nothing for 77 minutes while a gunman shot up a school full of elementary schoolchildren.
Well, he’s apparently trying to defend his actions (or, again, the lack thereof) on that sickening day, as he appeared for an interview with the Texas Tribune in which he claimed that he wasn’t the incident commander on that day, and thus not responsible for the lack of a response, and that he didn’t know about the 911 calls coming from inside the building because he didn’t have his radio. As the Tribune put it:
Arredondo assumed that some other officer or official had taken control of the larger response. He took on the role of a front-line responder.
He 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. DPS officials have described Arredondo as the incident commander and said Arredondo made the call to stand down and treat the incident as a “barricaded suspect,” which halted the attempt to enter the room and take down the shooter. “I didn’t issue any orders,” Arredondo said. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”
According to Arredondo, he left his radio behind because he wanted both hands available to hold his weapon. Again according to the Tribune:
To Arredondo, the choice was logical. An armed killer was loose on the campus of the elementary school. Every second mattered. He wanted both hands free to hold his gun, ready to aim and fire quickly and accurately if he encountered the gunman.
Then, because he didn’t have his radio, he didn’t hear the 911 calls coming from within the building and didn’t issue orders to the waiting officers, so no one breached the room and dealt with the gunman. It seems inconceivable, however, that the police chief would have just assumed someone else would deal with it for a full 77 minutes as gunfire came from within the building and the shooter massacred children.
Arredondo also made a bizarre claim about how the responding officers reacted, saying, in the Tribune interview:
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children. We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat.”
The problem with that statement, as seems obvious on its face, is that the officers did hesitate. They waited around for over an hour as the gunman massacred children. Whether they were waiting outside the school or outside the room where he was, they were hesitating and didn’t put down the threat, which would seem to disprove his claim, though perhaps he’s using a different definition of “hesitated” than the normal one. The Tribune, noting that his “explanations” don’t fully make sense, said:
Indeed. Whether or not the police responding to the massacre were as cowardly as the event made them seem might be up in the air, but it seems indisputable that they and their chief made many, many errors in the response and that lives were probably lost because of those errors and/or that cowardice.
Hopefully further examination of what the police did and why will show what exactly happened and who is to blame for the horrific massacre.