A new timeline of events that emerged from last week’s tragedy at an elementary school in Texas casts an even more negative light on the police chief who was in charge of the scene as new details portray him as being unprepared for the events that unfolded that day.
Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo arrived on scene without having a radio at 11:35 a.m. as at least two responding officers were already moving into the hallway outside the classroom door where the 18-year-old Latino shooter was located. Arredondo used a cell phone to call the police department to ask for a radio, a rifle, and heavily-armed backup.
“The decision to establish a perimeter outside the classroom, a little over five minutes after the shooting began, shifted the police response from one in which every officer would try to confront the gunman as fast as possible to one where officers treated the gunman as barricaded and no longer killing,” The New York Times reported. “Instead of storming the classroom, a decision was made to deploy a negotiator and to muster a more heavily armed and shielded tactical entry force.”
Law enforcement officials in the same position as Arredondo in other school districts across Texas highlighted multiple concerns about the latest developments to come out regarding how law enforcement responded to the incident.
They noted that shocking developments included police having to rely on a janitor’s key to get into the room, Arredondo not having a radio on him, uncertainty about Arredondo getting messages from the police department’s dispatch, and Arredondo’s decision to treat the situation as a hostage-barricade scenario instead of an active shooter who needed to be immediately neutralized.
The Times reported that children from inside the classroom where most of the killing occurred, classroom 112, which was connected to an adjoining classroom, were calling 911 to ask for help more than half an hour after the shooting had started as the attacker killed students and fired at law enforcement in the hallway.
The report said that heavily-armed tactical units were already on scene while the shooting continued and calls continued to come from inside the classroom.
“They made a poor decision, defining that as a hostage-barricade situation,” Bill Francis, a former FBI agent who was a senior leader on the bureau’s hostage rescue team for 17 years, told the Times. “The longer you delay in finding and eliminating that threat, the longer he has to continue to kill other victims.”
Federal agents from U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), two agencies that have been demonized by some Democrats in recent years, grew increasingly angry by the poor leadership on scene and decided to ignore the orders not to breach the classroom because they wanted to save as many kids as possible. Once the agents killed the attacker, they immediately began to treat as many kids as possible who had been injured, but were still alive.
“I don’t understand why somebody did not go in,” one of the children’s mothers said, noting that while there would have been some who still died from their injuries, the total number of deaths “would have been way less than 21.”