Amid continued criticism of the law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead last month, Pete Arredondo—who serves as the police chief of the Uvalde school district—has defended how he handled the scene.
In comments provided to the Texas Tribune, published Thursday, Arredondo alleged he “never considered himself the scene’s incident commander.” He also pointed to an access issue when it came to opening a door to a locked class room, saying he tried “dozens” of different keys. Arredondo claimed to the Tribune that he and his team “responded to the information that we had” and adjusted their method of response as the situation progressed.
“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,” said Arredondo, who was not in contact with a number of agencies due to having intentionally left his radios outside the school.
Meanwhile, a New York Times report—also shared on Thursday—adds greater context to the widely criticized police response. Among the slew of newly reported details that have contributed to the sustained criticism (as well as contradicted Arredondo’s comments) are Times-reviewed documents showing responding officers “waited for protective equipment” at the scene to minimize the potential risk against them.
The list of reported failings surrounding the shooting, including the fact the 18-year-old gunman was able to maintain control of the situation for an extended period of time despite the presence of numerous armed officers, is likely to continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead.
“After everything, I get more angry because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing,” Reyes, who said all 11 students in his classroom were killed, told the outlet. “You’re supposed to protect and serve.”