The head officer who was supposed to be leading the Uvalde School shooting response reportedly arrived at the scene without his radio.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez shared the details with the Associated Press on Friday, just 10 days after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary school, killing 19 children and two teachers. The Democratic lawmaker said an official with the Texas Department of Public Safety informed him that Pete Arredondo—the school district police chief who oversaw law enforcement’s response—“did not have his radio or comms on him during the incident.” It remains unclear how the chief was communicating with officers during the massacre.
Arredondo has faced mounting criticism for his handling of the May 24 attack, which marked the deadliest U.S. school shooting in about a decade. DPS previously reported local officers arrived at the scene just four minutes after the gunman entered the school through a back door and gained access to a fourth-grade classroom. Authorities said the suspect spent about an hour and 20 minutes inside the school before he was shot and killed by members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.
Many have questioned why officers didn’t immediately enter the classroom as the incident unfolded. A group of 19 officers reportedly spent 45 minutes in the hallway before Border Patrol agents unlocked the room to confront the shooter. When pressed about law enforcement’s slow response, DPS Director Steven McCraw said Arredondo mistakenly determined the shooting had evolved into a hostage situation and that there was no longer an immediate threat. Officers were reportedly told to “fall back” until a tactical unit arrived at the scene.
“He was convinced at the time that there was no more threat to the children and that the subject was barricaded and that they had time to organize” McCraw previously told reporters. “It was the wrong decision.”
Critics have questioned why Arredondo believed the shooter was no longer active, as students were making panicked 911 calls as officers stood in the hallway outside the classroom. Gutierrez said Arredondo was not informed of those calls.
DPS is currently investigating the shooting and the police’s bungled response. It was recently reported that the Uvalde Independent School District police force and Uvalde PD are no longer cooperating with probe.
Shortly after the shooting, law enforcement carried out search warrants on the shooter’s home and pickup truck. According to KXAN, the vehicle search yielded a Smith & Wesson rifle and more than a dozen rifle magazines, all of which were fully or nearly fully loaded. Investigators also collected eight DNA swabs from inside the truck.