Head of Texas safety calls Uvalde response ‘abject failure’, parents demand police chief be fired

Testifying before a Texas state Senate committee hearing Tuesday, Director Steve McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety declared the response to the massacre in Uvalde, Texas an “abject failure” after the “on-scene commander…decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”

McCraw was speaking before the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans when he asserted the attack at Robb Elementary School that resulted in the murder of 19 children and two teachers could have been resolved within “three minutes” if not for the failure of Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo. “There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he stated as part of his opening.

“Three minutes after the subject entered the West building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject. The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander,” McCraw contended, “who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”

Holding back contempt, the director went on, “The officers had weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none. The officers had training. The subject had none.”

“One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds,” McCraw stated with a quavering voice. “That’s how long the children waited, and the teachers waited in rooms 111 to be rescued. And while they waited, the on-scene commander waited for radio and rifles. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.”

With at least three separate investigations underway regarding the response to the tragedy at Robb Elementary School, McCraw’s testimony followed a report on Monday that included footage from within the building depicting officers with ballistic shields and rifles nearly a full hour before an attempt to engage the suspect took place. Arredondo had reportedly told the dispatcher at the time that “he didn’t have the firepower to confront the lone gunman.”

However, Arredondo has also made claims that he “didn’t issue any orders” and that he spent a considerable amount of time trying to locate the correct key on “a key ring that’s got to weigh 10 pounds” though a later report explained the door may not have been locked and no one had tried to open it prior to the final engagement of the subject.

The same day that the footage was released, at least eight relatives of the 21 victims spoke at an Uvalde board meeting and pushed for the termination of Arredondo from his position as police chief, the Daily Mail reported.

Brett Cross, the uncle to eight-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia had stated, “Having Pete still employed, knowing he is incapable of decision-making that saves lives, is terrifying.”

“Innocence doesn’t hide, innocence doesn’t change its story, but innocence did die on May 24,” he went on and later added, “We were failed by Pete Arredondo. He failed our kids, teachers, parents, and city. And by keeping him on your staff, ya’ll are continuing to fail us.”

Cross made similar statements outside a closed-door hearing of the state House investigative committee explaining that he will continue to fight.

Ryan Ramirez, father of 10-year-old victim Alithia Ramirez, railed against Arredondo’s continued posting through tears, “How are we supposed to continue our lives here when the people that are supposed to protect us let down our families? Do us a favor and do what you know is right and make these people accountable for what happened.”

“We all know that they messed up,” he said of the police, “we all know that this wasn’t handled right. Y’all can do whatever you want to try and make us happy, it’s not going to work. Ya’ll know what we want, accountability.”

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