Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo defended the response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two adults dead. Arredondo spoke publically for the first time in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
Arredondo pushed back on claims that officers waited outside for 77 minutes while the 18-year-old gunman massacred children inside a classroom that he barricaded himself in.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo said. “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 said that there were many reasons it took over an hour to take down the shooter. He said that he was in the hallway outside of the classroom and requested tactical gear, and called for a sniper to assist. He also said he had to wait for somebody to bring him the keys to the classroom, noting the door was reinforced and could not be easily kicked down.
When the keys finally arrived, Arredondo said most of them didn’t work.
“Each time I tried a key, I was just praying,” Arredondo said.
After trying dozens of keys, he finally opened the door, and officers stormed inside the classroom and fatally shot the gunman.
Arredondo said he did not know about the 911 calls made by students inside the classroom because he left both of his radios outside when he entered the building. He told the paper he left the radios behind because he thought they would slow him down and noted that they don’t always work inside of the school.
Arredondo also pushed back on claims that he ordered officers to stand down and claimed that he did not believe he was the incident commander at the scene.
“I didn’t issue any orders,” Arredondo said. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas Department of Public Safety have both launched investigations into the response of the police. In addition, the Texas Legislature has formed a committee to investigate the shooting.