Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo said in an interview on Thursday that he did not consider himself to be the on-scene incident commander during the shooting at Robb Elementary School last month.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune — his first since 19 students and two teachers were killed in the May 24 shooting — Arredondo said he did not give any commands that police should not attempt to breach the building. “I didn’t issue any orders,” Arredondo said. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez said at a news conference late last month that the chief didn’t have access to the 911 calls when he made the decision to wait to take out 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials, however, have said that Arredondo made the “wrong decision” to wait to confront the gunman, contradicting his claims.
Officials have also changed the timeline of events from the incident multiple times in the following weeks, contributing to mounting anger. “From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.”
Pete Arredondo, 50, the police chief of the Uvalde school district, also told The Texas Tribune he intentionally left behind both his police and campus radios before entering Robb Elementary School. Arredondo reportedly believed that the radios would slow him down at a time in which he believed he was the first officer at the scene to respond.
Arredondo told the Tribune that he tried to open the door using keys and later used his cellphone to call for tactical gear, a sniper and keys to get inside the classroom from the hallway of the school. He added that he kept trying to gain entry to the school using the dozens of keys brought to him, but was unsuccessful.
The New York Times reported Thursday that an investigation is ongoing in order to ascertain if those who died could have been saved if they had received medical attention sooner.
Since the May 24 shootings, videos have surfaced of parents urging police officers to go to the school and police stopping parents from charging in themselves.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” said Javier Cazares, the father of a fourth grader who died during the shooting.
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