Widget not in any sidebars
UVALDE, Texas — Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district police department who oversaw the law enforcement response to a shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers, arrived at the scene without his radio and other equipment, two law enforcement sources told the Austin American-Statesman of the USA TODAY Network.
The two officials were briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, told KABB-TV he was informed Friday by law enforcement officials that Arredondo “did not have his radio or comms on him during the incident.”
The revelation also comes after Gutierrez said Thursday that the 911 calls from terrified children inside Robb Elementary School were not relayed to the chief, raising questions about when and what information Arredondo knew during the attack.
Arredondo’s actions have been under mounting scrutiny in the days following the shooting, including his decision to treat the incident as a “barricaded subject” instead of an active shooter. Experts have said the response was out of step with law enforcement training about how to handle such shootings.
Arredondo, who remains on the job, has repeatedly declined to comment.
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Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, said Thursday he was informed by officials at the Commission on State Emergency Communications that the 911 calls were received by the Uvalde Police Department and not directly relayed to Arredondo during the shooting, despite multiple law enforcement agencies being on the scene.
Officials with the Commission on State Emergency Communications did not respond to a request for comment.
“I’m not blaming the Uvalde PD, I’m not blaming the ISD cops or the troopers, or anybody singularly,” Gutierrez said at Thursday’s news conference outside the Uvalde County Courthouse. “There is blame enough here to go around. There was human error, and there was system error.”
Gutierrez said the communication failures were in part due to the many law enforcement agencies contracting with different radio companies, rather than being on one uniform network.
Still, he said it’s unclear whether the information from the 911 calls was relayed to the many law enforcement agencies on the scene, including the 19 officers in the hallway outside the rooms where the shooter was located. Gutierrez also said he’s unsure whether Uvalde Police Department officers attempted to take over command at the scene.
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Gutierrez also expressed frustration about the shifting narratives offered by top Texas officials about the law enforcement response and the many lingering questions about the incident.
“We need transparency, and that hasn’t happened here,” Gutierrez said.
The catastrophic attack has devastated the tight-knit Uvalde community, which is now burdened with the heartbreaking task of burying 21 people, including 19 children. The first funerals took place Tuesday.
As residents await answers on why it took so long for law enforcement officers to stop the gunman, they are also demanding action from state authorities to ensure such a tragedy doesn’t happen again. Lawmakers, however, are divided on how to proceed.
Democrats, including Gutierrez, are calling for Gov. Greg Abbott to call lawmakers back for a special session in Austin to address gun control measures, such as raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase a rifle, requiring a cooling-off period before a buyer can take possession of a purchased firearm, enacting mandatory background checks before all firearm sales, passing “red flag” laws, and limiting the availability of high-capacity magazines.
Republicans, though, historically have opposed such ideas, instead advocating for increased security at schools, including arming teachers, and improved mental health services. Abbott said last Friday that “all options are on the table,” but in a recorded address to the National Rifle Association on the same day, the governor said he opposed restricting any gun rights.
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On Wednesday, Abbott directed the state House and Senate to convene special committees to study school safety and mass shootings, and develop recommendations for how the Legislature can address the issue. Lawmakers are not scheduled to convene for the next legislative session until January.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has named the eight Republicans and three Democrats who will sit on the special committee, but the list doesn’t include Gutierrez, which he called “a slap in the face to the people of Uvalde.”
Contributing: The Associated Press