A classroom with green seats and white desks.

“The only thing that was important to me at this time was to save as many teachers and children as possible.”

Uvalde school district's chief of police, Pete Arredondo, in his first extensive interview since the shooting.

Published on

jun 10, 2022

  • The Texas Tribune held an extensive interview with Chief Arredondo.
  • Why It Matters: The Tribune reports that besides the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, "Arredondo is the only other law enforcement official to publicly tell his account of the police response to the shooting."
  • Uvalde was the site of the deadliest school shooting in Texas state history — and one of the deadliest in the nation's history. Arredondo, 50, a native of Uvalde, attended the elementary school as a child.

    Here are a few highlights from his account — just a reminder, multiple investigations continue about the incident:
  • No Radio: Chief Arredondo left his police radios outside the school. He said they were difficult to carry while running and often did not work inside the school building — but "that decision also meant that for the rest of the ordeal, he was not in radio contact with the scores of other officers from at least five agencies that swarmed the scene" (The Texas Tribune). He says he used his cell phone to call for SWAT backup and tools. He says that, without his radio, he had not received any information about 911 calls coming from inside the classroom.
  • No Keys: “Each time I tried a key I was just praying." Chief Arredondo tried two sets of key rings brought to him — one key ring with approx. six keys, and another with 20-30 — but none opened the secured, locked classroom doors, which could not be kicked in. The Texas Tribune reports that "measures meant to protect teachers and students in mass shooting situations worked against police trying to gain entry."
  • "I didn’t issue any orders." The Dept. of Public Safety had reported that a commanding officer, widely believed to be Arredondo, gave stand down orders to other law enforcement who wanted to breach the classroom. Arredondo and his lawyer both state that any such orders did not come from him.
  • “The ammunition was penetrating the walls at that point." Arredondo said he never left the school during the entire ordeal. From his location outside the classroom, he was concerned about others — such as law enforcement officers and more students — being shot through the walls. He said he told officers to break windows from the outside to get students out of the classrooms, and that officers tried to be extremely quiet in the hallway in order to not garner attention from the shooter.
  • He tried to talk to the gunman: The gunman did not respond.
  • Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children. 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.” Chief Arredondo.
  • According to The Texas Tribune, he held every injured child as officers formed a line to pass them to emergency vehicles. His own extended family was impacted by the shooting.

Waiting for keys, unable to break down doors: Uvalde schools police chief defends delay in confronting gunman

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