Uvalde school police chief says he didn’t know he was in charge at shooting, gave no orders

Deeply criticized for having spent over an hour in the hallway and unable to break through a steel jammed door to reach the gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo provided insight into what was going through his mind at the grade school massacre where he was on the scene without keys, body armor, police radios or tactical gear.

“I didn’t issue any orders,” Arredondo told The Texas Tribune, despite being widely believed to be in charge during the gunman’s rampage.

“I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door,” the 50-year-old law enforcement officer told the outlet in his first comments since the mass shooting. “The only thing that was important to me at this time was to save as many teachers and children as possible.”

Unable to break down the door, he resorted to trying every key he could get his hands on to hopefully unlock the door and have access to fire his weapon at the deranged 18-year-old gunman.

“Each time I tried a key I was just praying,” Arredondo who once attended Robb Elementary school as a child said. “You’re talking about a key ring that’s got to weigh 10 pounds.”

He didn’t have a set of master keys with him but was desperately searching for a key to unlock the room where the shooter was. After trying dozens of keys, he finally got a call on his cellphone: Fellow officers on the scene had located the key that ultimately unlocked the door and allowed officers to end the shooter’s reign of terror in the classroom.

“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo recalled. “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.”

Arredondo confirmed that he made the active decision to not carry either of the two police radios into the school when he entered the building around 11:35 a.m. because he was worried they would slow him down or fall off of his belt altogether.

It was vitally important to him, he felt, to have both of his hands available to handle his weapon and fire off as many rounds as needed if he was able to locate the shooter.

“My mind was to get there as fast as possible, eliminate any threats, and protect the students and staff,” the head of the school district’s 6-member police force said about the ordeal that ended with 19 students and 2 teachers dead.

But during the ordeal, parents were at their wit’s end with some running into the building to bring their own children to safety and others urging each other to take matters into their own hands.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to.” Javier Cazares, the father of a fourth-grade victim, said outside of the school during the attack according to Associate Press. “More could have been done.”


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7 thoughts on “Uvalde school police chief says he didn’t know he was in charge at shooting, gave no orders

  1. The evil cockroach with the guns got in and locked the doors behind him. Good has to be right every time. Evil only has to get it right once.

  2. What a horrible tragedy. Sounds like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

  3. Some fundamental errors here. 1). Schools and local emergency responders should have a mutually developed emergency response plan that clearly delineates roles. The district had a preventive emergency plan, but it’s not clear if they had a response plan. Prevention is important, but a clear response plan with drills is crucial.

    2) First responders should have master keys or the school should have a knox box with the keys. This district has its own police force. It’s incomprehensible that not one of them had a master key to the building in their possession.

    3). Radios don’t need to be hand-held. They are crucial.

    4). I don’t understand why the officers didn’t try to find an alternative access point.

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