“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.
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.
What the reports reveal about the timeline
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves, Holly Yan, Omar Jimenez, Andy Rose, Shimon Prokupecz, Rebekah Riess and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.