Commander made controversial decision to hold officers back for roughly an hour
The officer commanding the immediate police response to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting was not receiving key information about 911 calls coming from inside Robb Elementary School, according to a state senator.
In the chaos of the shooting, school police chief Pete Arredondo ordered a group of nearly 20 officers stationed outside the classroom where the gunman was barricaded to hold fast and avoid further confrontation until backup could arrive.
À l'époque, according to Texas officials, the commander believed the active shooting portion of the incident was giving way to a drawn out standoff, according to senator Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde.
The resulting delay of nearly an hour has been criticised by numerous victims’ parents and Texas officials.
“Law enforcement failed here, not just Officer Arredondo,” Mr Gutierrez said at a news conference on Thursday.
“I’m not blaming the Uvalde PD," il a continué. “I’m not blaming the ISD [independent school district] cops or the troopers or anybody, or anybody singulalrly. There is blame enough here to go around. There was human error and there was system error.”
19 students and two teachers were killed in the shooting, which was confined to a single pair of conjoined classrooms.
The Democratic senator called the communications mishap a sign of “system failure."
He said he was told by state officials that the 911 calls coming from inside the school went to the city’s police department, who then could have shared them with any one of 17 different contacts. According to his inquiries, the info from the calls went to an Uvalde PD officer, but it’s unclear which one.
The law enforcement response to the shooting, and in particular the amount of time it took for officers to eventually confront gunman Salvador Ramos and shoot him, has come in for heavy scrutiny.
Following the massacre, Steven C McCraw, Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said it was a “mistake” for officers to wait so long to confront the teen assailant.
“Of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, point final. There’s no excuse for that," il mentionné at a news conference last week. "En rétrospective, from where I’m sitting right now, clearly there were kids in the room…Clearly they’re at risk.”
Texas governor Greg Abbott initially praised the law enforcement response to the shooting, before later saying he was “induit en erreur” about what happened on the ground.
“I am livid about what happened,” he said at a Friday press conference in Uvalde. “The families whose lives have been destroyed need answers…Law enforcement is going to earn the trust of the public by making sure they thoroughly and exhaustively investigate exactly what happened.”
State and federal officials are now probing the police response to the incident, the second worst school shooting in US history.