Why Did They Wait So Long? Focus Is on Chief's Decision

Reports say officers from other agencies on the scene in Uvalde confronted school police chief
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2022 8:19 AM CDT
Why Did They Wait So Long? Focus Is on Chief's Decision
Flowers outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Why did police wait so long to confront the gunman in Uvalde? As the narrative crystallizes, it appears that much of the responsibility for that decision is falling on one man, the chief of police for the local school district. Coverage:

  • The chief: He is identified as Pedro "Pete" Arredondo, who runs a department that has only six officers and has been in existence only four years, reports the New York Times. One of the key questions is why no other agency assumed control, given that officers from the Uvalde police department, sheriff's deputies, and Border Patrol agents were on the scene.

  • The explanation: Arredondo has not spoken publicly, but Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said Arredondo decided not to let officers storm the classroom because he felt it had morphed into more of a hostage situation with a barricaded gunman than an active-shooter situation. As about 20 officers waited outside the classroom for more than 45 minutes, students inside were calling 911 and pleading for help, per the Washington Post. Another aspect of the investigation is to determine whether Arredondo was informed of those 911 calls, per the Times.
  • Friction: The AP reports that officers from other agencies were captured on audio telling Arredondo that they should break into the locked classroom immediately, in line with police protocol established after the Columbine massacre of 1999. "It wasn’t clear why the school chief ignored their warnings," per the AP, which quotes two anonymous law enforcement officials. Border Patrol agents in particular shouted, "What is your problem?" to Arredondo, per the Times.
  • Training: Arredondo completed training on how to respond to an active-shooter situation in December, reports NBC News. The training deals specifically with how to "compare/contrast an active shooter event and a hostage or barricade crisis," per NBC.
  • Lives: It's not clear how many, if any, lives could have been saved had authorities not waited, but officers did hear sporadic gunfire as they waited in the hallway. “In these cases, I think the court of public opinion is far worse than any court of law or police department administrative trial,” retired New York police sergeant Joe Giacalone tells the Times. “This has been handled so terribly on so many levels, there will be a sacrificial lamb here or there.”
(Read more Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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