Uvalde police Chief Pete Arredondo had no radio at Texas shooting: report

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Uvalde police Chief Pete Arredondo had no radio at Texas shooting: report

The cop in charge during the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre arrived without a police radio and immediately made the call to “fall back” rather than confront the gunman, a new report said.

Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo was one of the first people on the scene after 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos stormed into Robb Elementary School with an AR-15-style assault rifle last Tuesday — but police communication was chaotic from the start, the New York Times reported.

The Post had previously reported state investigators were looking into whether the embattled chief had a radio when he took charge, explaining why he was apparently unaware of 911 calls from kids inside the building.

When two officers were grazed by bullets as they pursued Ramos, Arredondo made the call to drop back and call in a negotiator because he thought the gunman was “contained,” the Times reported, citing sources. That move contradicts active shooter protocols that say cops should advance on a gunman as soon as possible.

Arredondo had to use a cellphone to call a police land line to request a radio and backup, saying “we need more firepower and we need the building surrounded,” according to the Times’ description. The negotiator wasn’t able to reach Ramos on the phone, Mayor Don McLaughlin said in a Wednesday interview with Telemundo San Antonio and the Washington Post.

Police responded to an active shooter alert at Robb Elementary School, where 19 children and 2 teachers were shot dead.
Arredondo reportedly arrived without a police radio at Robb Elementary School, where 19 children were shot dead.
Facebook / Joe Paul Ortega

Arredondo and local cops are facing snowballing criticism for their response to the shooting, which left 19 kids and two teachers dead, with questions about whether lives could have been saved if police had acted sooner to kill Ramos and get the wounded medical attention.

Cops were ordered not to breach the door, even as terrified kids who were locked in with the gunman called 911 pleading for help. A state lawmaker revealed Thursday that Arredondo was not aware of the 911 calls as he made the decision to fall back.

“I don’t want to die,” 10-year-old Khloie Torres told a dispatcher in one call, saying there were “a lot of bodies” inside her classroom, the Times said.

“My teacher is dead, my teacher is dead, please send help, send help for my teacher, she is shot but still alive,” she said, according to the report. It was 12:10 p.m., nearly 40 minutes after the start of the carnage, the report noted.

By then, the student had witnessed her teacher, Irma Garcia, struggle to lock the door to the classroom as the approaching gunman fired off shots, the newspaper reported. She finally got the right key, but it was too late and the gunman opened fire on the teacher and children, the Times said.

“You’ll die,” he said to the terrified children, according to the Times. One child allegedly was hit and yelled, “I’m shot,” before Ramos went up to the child and shot him a second, fatal time.  

Ramos went into the school at a little past 11:30 a.m. but wasn’t fatally shot until 12:50 p.m. — when a tactical unit disobeyed orders and unlocked the classroom door with a janitor’s key, the Times report revealed.

The officers in the unit gathered in the hallway outside the classroom — where they found the chain of command in shambles, the Times said.

“No one entity or individual seemed to have control of the scene,” one person told the newspaper. “It was chaos.”

Salvadpr Ramos crashed his grandmother's truck before taking up arms to go on a rampage at Robb Elementary School.
Salvador Ramos crashed his grandmother’s truck before going on a rampage at Robb Elementary School.
Elsa G Ruiz/Facebook

Finally, the frustrated group advanced on the classroom — even as one heard a command in his earpiece saying “do not breach,” the Times reported.

Arredondo, who is chief of a department of six officers, ended up in charge of a complex response that ultimately included more than 140 officers and 14 agencies, according to the report.

The response is being probed by the US Department of Justice and the Texas state Legislature as the chief has largely stayed out of public view even as he was sworn in as an elected councilman in Uvalde.

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