Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo had no radio when he arrived at the site of the horrific massacre but told officers on the scene to fall back anyway because he considered the suspect “contained.” This judgment is in complete contradiction to active shooter protocols, which specify that police should advance on the suspect and neutralize him immediately. In Uvalde, however, law enforcement waited 78 minutes before engaging the shooter.
Although there had been previous speculation that Arredondo had no radio, the New York Times finally confirmed it Friday in a report, adding that communications efforts were problematic from the start and the chief had to scramble to find a cellphone to communicate.
Breaking News: The police chief who oversaw the response to a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, arrived on scene without his police radio, a law enforcement official said. A tactical team ultimately ignored directives not to breach the classroom. https://t.co/sShSGMqXxG
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 3, 2022
The NY Times reports:
Using a cellphone, the chief called a police landline with a message that set the stage for what would prove to be a disastrous delay in interrupting the attack: The gunman has an AR-15, he told them, but he is contained; we need more firepower and we need the building surrounded.
One crucial question not answered by the report: just where was his radio? “No one entity or individual seemed to have control of the scene,” said one person who was there. “It was chaos.”
These latest details are sure to spur more outrage across the country—especially among the families of the victims—as it becomes more and more clear that the police response was an absolute catastrophe, and that misinformation and stonewalling since have contributed to it.
— Peggy Noonan (@Peggynoonannyc) June 3, 2022
Former Reagan speechwriter and current Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Peggy Noonan on Thursday wrote:
Uvalde wasn’t an “apparent law-enforcement failure.” It is the biggest law-enforcement scandal since George Floyd, and therefore one of the biggest in U.S. history. Children, some already shot, some not, were trapped in adjoining classrooms. As many as 19 cops were gathered in the hall just outside. The Washington Post timeline has the killer roaming the classrooms: “The attack went for so long, witnesses said, that the gunman had time to taunt his victims before killing them, even putting on songs that one student described to CNN as ‘I-want-people-to-die music.’ ”
The order to stand down continued even as students were calling 911 for help. Perhaps if the chief had something as simple as a radio, he might have had a better understanding of what was unfolding. “My teacher is dead, my teacher is dead, please send help, send help for my teacher, she is shot but still alive,” a student told 911 nearly 40 minutes into the attack.
Absolutely sickening stuff—and some of it may have been prevented if police had followed protocol. Even worse for the police: it wasn’t even them who finally took down the shooter, it was the Border Patrol:
The officers who finally breached the locked classrooms with a janitor’s key were not a formal tactical unit, according to a person briefed on the response. The officers, including specially trained Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and a sheriff’s deputy, formed an ad hoc group on their own and gathered in the hallway outside the classroom, a tense space where they said there appeared to be no chain of command.
They were done waiting for permission, one of them said, according to the person, before they moved toward the classroom where the gunman waited. They continued even after one of them heard a command crackling in his earpiece: Do not breach.
RedState previously wrote on one of the heroes.
In yet another odd twist to this case, Chief Arredondo was sworn in to his seat on the Uvalde City Council on May 31. It’s almost impossible to see how he can serve effectively while this fiasco is still under investigation, especially when there are conflicting reports on whether he’s even cooperating. The chief has largely stayed out of public view and has not made a statement to media.
This story continues to break our hearts, and we pray for the survivors and the relatives of those felled. The ongoing emergence of reports detailing just how terrible the police response was only adds to the pain. Noonan had it right, when she wrote that it is one of the biggest law-enforcement scandals in US history.
While I am usually pro police, in this case, we must find out how it all went so terribly wrong, and we must hold those who failed to protect the kids and their teachers to account.