‘Very angry’: Uvalde residents grapple with role school district’s police chief played

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The blame for an excruciating lengthen in killing the gunman at a Texas basic faculty — whilst oldsters outdoor begged police to hurry in and panicked youngsters referred to as 911 from inside of — has been positioned with the college district’s homegrown police leader.

It’s left citizens within the small town of Uvalde suffering to reconcile what they know of the popular native lawman after the director of state police stated that the commander on the scene — Pete Arredondo — made the “wrong decision” to not breach a school room at Robb Elementary School faster, believing the gunman was once barricaded inside of and kids weren’t in danger.

Steven McCraw, the pinnacle of the Texas Department of Public Safety, stated on the Friday information convention that when following the gunman into the development, officials waited over an hour to breach the study room. Nineteen youngsters and two academics had been killed within the capturing.

Arredondo, who grew up in Uvalde and graduated from highschool right here, was once set to be sworn in Tuesday to his new spot at the City Council after being elected previous this month. The 50-year-old has spent a lot of a just about 30-year profession in regulation enforcement in Uvalde, returning in 2020 to take the pinnacle police task on the faculty district.

When Arredondo was once a boy, Maria Gonzalez used to force him and her youngsters to the similar faculty the place the capturing took place. “He was a good boy,” she stated.

“He dropped the ball maybe because he did not have enough experience. Who knows? People are very angry,” Gonzalez stated.

Another girl in the community the place Arredondo grew up started sobbing when requested about him. The girl, who didn’t wish to give her title, stated considered one of her granddaughters was once on the faculty all over the capturing however wasn’t harm.

Juan Torres, a U.S. Army veteran who was once visibly disappointed with studies popping out in regards to the reaction, stated he knew Arredondo from highschool.

“You sign up to respond to those kinds of situations” Torres stated. “If you are scared, then don’t be a police officer. Go flip burgers.”

After his election to the City Council, Arredondo informed the Uvalde Leader-News previous this month that he was once “ready to hit the ground running.”

“I have plenty of ideas, and I definitely have plenty of drive,” he stated, including he sought after to focal point no longer simplest at the town being fiscally accountable but in addition ensuring side road upkeep and beautification initiatives occur.

At a applicants’ discussion board earlier than his election, Arredondo stated: “I guess to me nothing is complicated. Everything has a solution. That solution starts with communication. Communication is key.”

McCraw stated Friday that mins after the gunman entered the college, town law enforcement officials entered thru the similar door. Over the process greater than an hour, regulation enforcement from more than one businesses arrived at the scene. Finally, officers stated, a U.S. Border Patrol tactical crew used a janitor’s key to release the study room door and kill the gunman.

McCraw stated that scholars and academics had time and again begged 911 operators for lend a hand whilst Arredondo informed greater than a dozen officials to attend in a hallway. That directive — which works in opposition to established active-shooter protocols — induced questions on whether or not extra lives had been misplaced as a result of officials didn’t act quicker.

Two police officers have stated that because the gunman fired at scholars, regulation enforcement officials from different businesses recommended Arredondo to allow them to transfer in as a result of youngsters had been at risk, The officers spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they’d no longer been approved to speak publicly in regards to the investigation.

Arredondo began out his profession in regulation enforcement running for the Uvalde Police Department. After spending 16 years there, he went to Laredo, a border town positioned 130 miles (209 kilometers) miles to the south, the place he labored on the Webb County Sheriff’s Office after which for an area faculty district, in keeping with a 2020 article within the Uvalde Leader-News on his go back to his place of birth to take the college district police leader task.

Ray Garner, the police leader of the district in Laredo the place Arredondo labored, informed the San Antonio Express-News in a tale printed after the Uvalde capturing that once Arredondo labored within the Laredo district he was once “easy to talk to” and was once involved in regards to the scholars.

“He was an excellent officer down here,” Garner informed the newspaper . “Down here, we do a lot of training on active-shooter scenarios, and he was involved in those.”

Arredondo, who spoke simplest in brief at two brief information meetings at the day of the capturing, seemed in the back of state officers talking at information meetings over the following two days, however was once no longer provide at McCraw’s Friday information convention.

After that information convention, participants of the media converged at Arredondo’s house and police cruisers took up posts there. At one level, a person answering the door at Arredondo’s space informed a reporter for The Associated Press that Arredondo was once “indisposed.”

“The truth will come out,” stated the person earlier than final the door.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district comprises Uvalde, stated on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s asking numerous questions after “so many things went wrong.”

He stated one circle of relatives informed him {that a} first responder informed them that their kid, who was once shot within the again, most probably bled out. “So, absolutely, these mistakes may have led to the passing away of these children as well,” Gutierrez stated.

Gutierrez stated whilst factor of which regulation enforcement company had or must have had operational keep an eye on is a “significant” fear of his, he’s additionally “suggested” to McCraw “that it’s not fair to put it on the local (school district) cop.”

“At the end of the day, everybody failed here,” Gutierrez stated.

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