Ex-Uvalde School Police Chief Said He Prioritized Saving Students in Other Classrooms

In an interview less than 24 hours after the massacre, Pete Arredondo said he also heard the gunman reload but did not try to enter the classroom.

Ex-Uvalde School Police Chief Said He Prioritized Saving Students in Other Classrooms

Photo: Sky Down, Adobe Stock

Interview footage obtained by CNN shows former Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) Police Chief Pete Arredondo told investigators he prioritized saving children in other classrooms before those who were trapped with the shooter.

In the video, Arredondo, who was fired in August, said he assumed people in adjoined classrooms with the shooter were already dead so he chose to clear students from surrounding classrooms. At least three victims — two students and a teacher — were still alive when police finally entered the classrooms. They later died from their injuries.

“Once I realized what was going on, my first thought is that we need to vacate. We have him contained, and I know this is horrible, I know is what our training tells us to do, but we have him contained,” Arredondo recalled during the interview conducted less than 24 hours after the massacre. “There’s probably gonna be some deceased in there, but we don’t need any more from out here. So I called out and I said, ‘Get these kids out. Bust those windows, get ‘em out.'”

Arredondo also told investigators he was “certain” he heard the gunman reload but police still didn’t enter, even after receiving word that a child was calling from a “room full of victims.” He also told investigators that he tried to talk with the shooter which is against the district’s active shooter policy.

Other statements made in the interview contradict limited public statements issued by Arredondo. He said he did not consider himself to be the incident commander but can be heard repeatedly doling out commands in surveillance and body camera video. The district’s active shooter response plan, co-authored by Arredondo, says the chief will “become the person in control of the efforts of all law enforcement and first responders that arrive at the scene.”

“I didn’t issue any orders,” he told The Texas Tribune in June. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door,”

Arredondo also initially told investigators he thought the doors to the classrooms were locked but that he never tried to open them. In June, he told the Tribune he and another officer tried to open the doors to the adjoining classrooms but both were locked. There is no evidence showing Arrendondo checked to see if the doors were locked.

While finger-pointing has been a common theme since just hours after the shooting, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw largely blames Arredondo.

“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he testified before a special Texas Senate committee.

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About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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