Uvalde’s school district police chief is under fire for refusing to let his officers engage the active shooter at Robb Elementary School, after the gunman barricaded himself in a classroom as kids cowered inside and called 911.
During a bombshell presser Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety head Steven McCraw slammed Chief Pete Arredondo for failing to engage 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, mistakenly believing the teen had finished his killing spree and was hiding out from cops.
‘With the benefit of hindsight, from where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period,’ McCraw said.
The assertion from the state safety official comes as the the school district’s police force continues to face scrutiny for their handling of the shooting.
McCraw revealed that 911 calls had been made by students while locked in the classroom with Ramos, as Arredondo and his men waited outside the room for more than an hour.
Eventually, Border Patrol agents who rushed to the scene after hearing the incident unfold on scanners, breached the locked classroom door, with one fatally shooting Ramos.
Uvalde’s school district police chief Pete Arredondo is under fire for refusing to let his officers engage the active shooter at Robb Elementary, after the gunman barricaded himself in a classroom and continued to fire at cowering kids as they called 911
Video footage from the scene shows angry parents pleading with officers parked outside the school to enter the building, as they wondered as to the fate of their children
According to a law enforcement official who anonymously spoke to The New York Times, the agents had been puzzled as to why they were being told not to enter the school and engage the gunman.
McCraw asserted that Arredondo, identifying the district chief by title and not by name, made a miscalculation assuming the active shooter situation had become a barricade event.
Arredondo, 50, become the focus of backlash from parents wondering if their children could have been saved.
Arredondo, who was born in Uvalde and was elected to city council just days before the massacre, has had an unremarkable career as a cop.
He started his law enforcement career as a 911 dispatcher for Uvalde’s town police department in 1993, and over the course of the next 20 years, worked his way up to eventually assume the role of assistant police chief at the department in 2010.
Video shows Texas cops holding down a parent outside Robb Elementary School on Tuesday while a shooting unfolded inside. It took police an hour to get inside the building and bring down the shooter, due to Arredondo’s orders
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief Pete Arredondo was in charge and mistakenly thought there were no other kids alive in the room once the shooter had barricaded himself inside
Afterwards, he worked various roles at Webb County Sheriff’s Office in Laredo – a small Texas town a little more than 100 miles from Uvalde. He then moved to the city’s school district police force, United ISD, which is comprised of 88 sworn peace officers.
In March, during the early days of the pandemic, Arredondo got the chance to return home, when he was offered the position of school district police chief in his native Uvalde.
‘It’s nice to come back home,’ Arredondo, who has family in the small, rural town, told the Uvalde Leader News upon accepting the gig.
The department, which only presides over the town’s school seven-school district, is comprised of four officers, one police chief, and a detective.
‘All four of us are on a group text,’ Arredondo said at the time, adding ‘they are very knowledgeable, and I encourage them to give ideas.’
He went on to assert: ‘Of course, my title is important, but having a good group is also important,’ Arredondo said, adding, somewhat prophetically, ‘If not, you can surely fail.’
During Friday’s presser, state director McCraw corrected information released by Arredondo’s department Thursday that the gunman entered the building unimpeded, contradicting prior assertions that one of their officers exchanged fire with Ramos before the gunman entered the building.
Law enforcement are seen at the scene of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday
Arredondo, who was born in Uvalde and was elected to city council just days before the massacre, has had an unremarkable career as a cop, starting out as a 911 dispatcher in the town’s police force in 1993 before accepting the school police chief gig in March 2020
McCraw further revealed that the officer had actually passed by Ramos while rushing to the scene, as the gunman crouched behind a vehicle outside of the building.
Arredondo, whose decision it was not to advance because he thought all of the kids had died, was not at the press conference to answer questions and it remains unconfirmed if he was even inside the school at the time of the shooting.
There was no school resource officer there when the shooter opened fire, contrary to previous reports from the police that he engaged in a shootout with the gunman.
Instead, a school resource officer who was nearby and heard the first 911 call about the gunman crashing his truck rushed to the scene.
They however drove directly past the gunman when he hid between cars in the parking lot.
Instead, the school resource officer went to the back of the building and confronted a male teacher, mistaking him for the gunman.
In the meantime, Salvador Ramos started advancing on the school, firing at classrooms.
In this aerial view, law enforcement works on scene at Robb Elementary School where 21 people were killed
He then walked through an unlocked front door which was propped open by a teacher who had gone to retrieve their phone a minute before he arrived.
While those officers stood inside waiting and he was shooting, parents were being put in handcuffs outside and held back from entering the school. Some were even Tased, according to witness accounts.
‘They didn’t do that to the shooter, but they did that to us,’ Gomez told the Journal, referring to herself and other parents. ‘That’s how it felt.’
The police response is now under investigation.