This has to be the easiest call in the history of easy calls. We’ve all seen the infuriating video of police standing around in the hallway for 75 minutes and as Karen described yesterday there’s now a preliminary investigative report found which found there were nearly 400 officers on hand and yet, somehow, no one took charge. There was a school shooting plan in place, a plan written by Arredondo himself, which said he would be in charge if this were ever to happen. But Arredondo himself has claimed he didn’t think he was in charge.
Last night there was a school board meeting in Uvalde and residents demanded to know why Arredondo, who was placed on administrative leave last month, still had a job.
Attendees Monday night were pointing fingers at the board at a meeting that lasted three hours.
Parent Brett Cross asked the board why Arredondo, who is on administrative leave, hasn’t been fired, demanding, “Why the hell does he still have a job with y’all?”
“If he’s not fired by noon tomorrow, then I want your resignation and every single one of you board members,” he said, “because you all do not give a damn about our children or us. Stand with us or against us, because we ain’t going nowhere.”…
Jazmin Cazares, the sister of shooting victim Jackie Cazares and a high school student, said there was nothing that could be done to bring her sister back but the school board could make changes to prevent other families from losing children. She also questioned how safe she could feel.
“I’m gonna be a senior. How am I supposed to come back to this school? What are you guys going to do to make sure I don’t have to watch my friends die,” she asked. “What are you going to do to make sure I don’t have to wait 77 minutes bleeding out on my classroom floor just like my little sister did?”
According to the preliminary report, Chief Arredondo spent a substantial amount of time looking for a key to open the door to room 111. However, there is evidence that the lock on door 111 didn’t always work and that it quite possibly was never locked. Here’s a footnote about that from the report:
As discussed later in this report, responding officers assumed, but did not verify, that the doors to Rooms 111 and 112 were locked because of school policies and door designs intended to ensure locked classroom doors. Acting on that assumption, officers spent a great amount of time seeking a master key that could open a door they presumed to be locked. Other information described in this report casts doubt on the suggestion the door was actually locked.
In other words, before spending a lot of time looking for a master key, someone should have just tried the door. But even if Arredondo had known the key wasn’t needed it’s not clear he would have done anything differently. He told investigators he quickly determined this was a barricade situation where his job was to prevent the shooter from coming out of the room.
Although the encounter had begun as an “active shooter” scenario, Chief Arredondo testified that he immediately began to think of the attacker as being “cornered” and the situation as
being one of a “barricaded subject” where his priority was to protect people in the other classrooms from being victimized by the attacker.
With the benefit of hindsight, we now know this was a terrible, tragic mistake.
Testifying before the Committee, Chief Arredondo explained his thinking on this subject at the time as follows:
We have this guy cornered. We have a group of officers on … the north side, a group of officers on the south side, and we have children now that we know in these other rooms. My thought was: We’re a barrier; get these kids out — not the hallway, because the bullets are flying through the walls, but get them out the wall – out the windows, because I know, on the outside, it’s brick.
[T]o me … once he’s … in a room, you know, to me, he’s barricaded in a room. Our thought was: “If he comes out, you know, you eliminate the threat,” correct? And just the thought of other children being in other classrooms, my thought was: “We can’t let him come back out. If he comes back out, we take him out, or we eliminate the threat. Let’s get these children out.”
It goes back to the categorizing. … I couldn’t tell you when — if there was any different kind of categorizing. I just knew that he was cornered. And my thought was: “ … We’re a wall for these kids.” That’s the way I looked at it. “We’re a wall for these kids. We’re not going to let him get to these kids in these classrooms” where … we saw the children.
Being “a wall” for the kids who hadn’t been shot also meant they were a wall preventing the kids who had been shot from getting medical attention. This is precisely why active shooter training teaches police to use whatever resources they have and immediately try to confront and neutralize the shooter. Somehow Arredondo forgot all of that as did every other officer who was on site that day.
Today, the school board is holding a private meeting to decide Arredondo’s fate.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District officials are in discussions on the process to remove school system police chief Pete Arredondo over his role in the response to the Robb Elementary School shooting, two sources close to the process told CNN Tuesday…
It is unclear what the direction the process might take, but it may leave Arredondo no choice but to resign, according to the source.
CNN has reached out to Arredondo’s attorney and has not received a response.
I don’t think there’s much of a mystery which way this is going to go. They can’t possibly keep Chief Arredondo in his job after this abject failure. The community won’t accept him as the person who guarantees the safety of their children going forward. Here’s one of the highlights from last night’s school board meetings.
“If he’s not fired (Pete Arredondo) by noon tomorrow, I want your resignation (Suprintdt. Dr. Hal Harrell) and every single one of you board members because ya’ll do not give a damn about our children or us.” — parents demand action at Uvalde CISD school board meeting. #khou11 pic.twitter.com/CXyeRpgudt
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) July 18, 2022