Uvalde school shooting: As investigation begins, new details emerge on how law enforcement responded to the scene

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“I gave no orders,” he told the Tribune, although the outlet reported that the chief ordered officers to begin breaking exterior windows of other classrooms and evacuating students. “I called for help and asked for an extraction tool to open the door” to one of the classrooms where the shooting happened, he said.

Arredondo “assumed that another officer or official had taken control of the broader response,” the Tribune wrote. “He took on the role of a front-line responder.”

The Tribune said it gathered the chief’s comments in a telephone interview and in statements made through his attorney, George E. Hyde.

This adds to a pile of different explanations officials have given for the police response to the school, where authorities say an 18-year-old man shot and killed 19 fourth graders and two teachers in two adjacent classrooms, and remained there for over an hour until a Border Patrol Tactical Response Team entered and shot him dead. During those 70+ minutes, some children were still alive and calling 911 for help; a student told CNN she smeared her friend’s blood on herself and played dead.
Texas Department of Public Safety director Col. Steven McCraw said on May 27 that the school’s police chief – Arrendondo – was the incident commander; that the commander thought the scene was a “barricaded subject situation” and not an active shooter situation; and that the Chief thought “it was time to get the keys and wait for a tactical team with the gear to go ahead and come through the door and tackle the subject”.
“Looking back, where I’m sitting now, of course, it wasn’t the right decision,” McCraw said last month of what he said was the supervisor’s call not to confront the shooter. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There is no excuse for that.”
Also Thursday, The New York Times reported that while law enforcement was deciding how to enter the two classrooms, they knew the injured victims were still trapped inside with the shooter. The Times cited a transcript of law enforcement body camera footage included in investigative documents and law enforcement videos reviewed by The Times.
Arredondo has not given a public information update or official statement since the day of the attack and declined to answer substantive questions from CNN last week, saying he would not release any information for a while. the funerals of the victims.

Arredondo’s attorney, Hyde, texted CNN saying he and his client weren’t giving any more interviews at this time.

“My client needs time because it’s been very difficult for him. At this point, we won’t be giving any interviews immediately,” Hyde told CNN via text message.

Multiple investigations and legislative reviews were launched after the attack, including by a Texas House investigative committee, but details of the massacre are yet to emerge.

What the reports reveal about the timeline

According to CNN’s analysis of the timeline of events, three officers from the Uvalde Police Department entered the school at 11:35 a.m., just minutes after the shooter stormed the building. Arredondo also told the Tribune that he arrived at school around 11:35 a.m.

Arredondo told the Tribune that he left his two radios outside the school because he wanted his hands free to hold his gun. He thought they would slow him down because of a faulty clip and antenna that could hit him as he ran, the Tribune reported.

Once the chief and a group of officers from Uvalde approached the doors of the adjacent classrooms where the shooter had entered, they discovered that the doors were locked, Arredondo told the Tribune. The shooter then fired from inside the classroom which penetrated the classroom door and wall, grazed some of Uvalde’s police officers and lodged in the wall next to the hallway where other classrooms, according to the report.

A timeline of how the Texas school massacre — and the police response — unfolded

Because the classroom door was reinforced with a steel stud, officers were unable to break down the door, Arredondo told the Tribune. The chief said he called police dispatch and asked for a SWAT team, snipers and tools to open the door.

It’s unclear what time Arredondo made this request or ordered officers to begin evacuating students, but CNN previously reported that around 11:44 a.m., officers called in additional resources and evacuated students and teachers. As of 12:03 p.m., as many as 19 officers were in the school hallway, officials said.

At that time, a student trapped in one of the besieged classrooms called 911 identifying herself and the class she was in. She called twice more several minutes later, telling dispatchers eight to nine students were still alive, authorities said. Arredondo told the Tribune he was unaware of the 911 calls because he did not have his radios and said no one passed them on to him.

“People are going to ask why we’re taking so long,” said a law enforcement official at the scene of the shooting, according to the Time report, which cites a transcript of law enforcement body camera footage. “We are trying to preserve the rest of the life,” the transcript reads, according to the Times.
The Times reports that around 12:30 p.m., Arredondo said, “We are ready to breach, but this door is locked,” citing a transcript.

At one point, the Tribune reports, a concierge provided six keys which failed to open the door and another key ring containing up to 30 keys was later brought to the chef, but these also failed. It is not known at what time Arredondo received the keys.

Students run to safety after escaping from a window at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, May 24.
At 12:50 p.m., a tactical team entered the classrooms using a key from a janitor and fatally shot the shooter, CNN reported.
Three days after the shooting, McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Arredondo made the decision not to enter the classroom, calling it a “bad decision” not to hire immediately. the shooter. McCraw did not directly name Arredondo but said it was the school district police chief who made the call.

The DPS said May 31 that Arredondo did not respond to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers, who are investigating the massacre. The next day, Arredondo told CNN, “I’m in touch with DPS every day.”

Arredondo’s attorney told the Tribune that the chief participated in several interviews and follow-up calls with the DPS in the days following the shooting and also briefed Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other officials. of State.

After DPS said he made the wrong decision, Arredondo “was no longer involved in the investigation to avoid media interference,” Hyde said.

In a statement responding to the Times report, Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said: “The investigations by the Texas Rangers and the FBI are ongoing, and we eagerly await the full results. shared with the families of the victims and the public, who deserve the full truth about what happened on that tragic day.”

CNN has reached out to DPS and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District for comment. CNN also asked for input from the National Incident Management System, which guides all levels of government on how to respond to mass emergency events.

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, arrives at a meeting of the House Investigative Committee into the Robb Elementary School shooting.

The commission of inquiry seeks answers

On Thursday, the Texas House Board of Investigation held its first hearing in its investigation into the Robb Elementary shooting.

The panel could release its preliminary findings before the full investigation is complete, Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows, the committee’s chairman, said in the panel’s opening remarks. The preliminary report is expected to be completed by the end of the month, a source close to the committee told CNN.

How to Offer Support When a Mass Shooting Happens

Burrows, along with the other two members of the committee — Democratic state Rep. Joe Moody and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman — heard private testimony Thursday from senior officials in the US Department of Public Safety. Texas, including DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw, according to a list of witnesses provided by the committee.

Moody and Burrows declined to share details of Thursday’s closed session. When asked how it felt to review the evidence, Moody told CNN, “Like every other parent in this state, I’m sad. I’m scared. I’m shocked.”

The panel will meet again next week to review more evidence and conduct more interviews, Burrows said.

State and local agencies are also investigating the massacre and law enforcement’s response, though residents and officials are frustrated by the apparent lack of transparency and cooperation.

“It’s clear that state and local authorities are no longer cooperating with each other,” U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, told CNN on Saturday, noting that he had asked the FBI to take over the lead. investigation.

The US Department of Justice will also conduct a federal review of law enforcement’s response to Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin’s request, the agency announced last week.

CNN’s Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves, Holly Yan, Omar Jimenez, Andy Rose, Shimon Prokupecz, Rebekah Riess and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.


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