Texas

School police chief Uvalde says he prioritized students over arresting militant

YUVALDE, TX (Nexstar) — Former Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo told investigators his priority was rescuing students and staff in other Robb Elementary School classrooms rather than stopping a gunman who had already entered the classroom, killing 19 students and two teachers . .

Arredondo told investigators on May 25, the day after the massacre, that he made the decision after the shooter entered two classes, according to an interview video obtained by CNN. The officer said the important decision was made after he saw children in other classrooms.

“Once I realized what was going on, my first thought was that we needed to get free,” Arredondo told Texas Department of Safety state investigators. – We kept him – and I know it’s terrible, and I know that this is what our training tells us – but, we kept him, there will probably be some dead people, but we don’t need anything else from away .”

In a video interview, Arredondo explains that he assumed the kids in those classrooms were already dead based on the sounds of gunfire, so he decided to turn around and evacuate the other students and faculty.

This decision, in which Arredondo called for the shooter to be treated as a barricaded subject rather than an active shooter, will prove to be one of the major mistakes on May 24, as children and teachers in classes 111 and 112 were left alone. with a shooter, with survivors and several victims bleeding for over an hour.

At least three of the 21 victims – two children and one teacher – were still alive during the 88 minutes police waited to enter the classrooms. The children called 911, describing the victims bleeding in the classroom and pleading with law enforcement for help.

Arredondo’s decision was inconsistent with active shooter protocols, which direct rescuers to “isolate, distract and neutralize” the shooter, and advise officers that they will usually have to “expose themselves to danger and display extraordinary courage to save the innocent”.

According to the Texas Law Enforcement Commission, Arredondo completed three active shooting drills — one in June 2019, a second in August 2020, and a third in December 2021.

New information about his actions that day also reveals that Arredondo heard the shooter reload his weapon, but still took no action to stop the shooter.

“I’m guessing he’s reloaded, I know he did something to him. I actually heard it at one time, I don’t know if it was the second time,” Arredondo told investigators.

Was Arredondo in command on 24 May?

Arredondo was fired by the school district in August 2022.

Days after the mass shooting, DPS director Stephen McCraw said that Arredondo was put in charge of the incident at the scene and has since taken a share of the blame for that day’s mishap. Through his lawyer, the former chief of the school police stated that he never considered himself the incident leader at the scene and did not give any instructions that the police should not attempt to enter the building.

Also, in a June interview with KXAN partner The Texas Tribune, Arredondo told the Tribune, “I didn’t give any orders… I called for help and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”

Camera footage obtained by CNN refutes this.

“We’re going to clear this building before we commit any violations,” Arredondo told police in the hallway around 12:08 p.m. “Once they clear this room, I’ll check what was released guys before we do any break-in.”

According to these footage, as well as his own confession to investigators the day after the shooting, Arredondo was giving instructions on the day of the tragedy.

In a bodycam video obtained by CNN, he continued: “Now time is on our side. I know we have kids there for sure, but we have to save the lives of the others.”

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