Uvalde school police chief, fellow officer indicted over tragic response to school shooting

Two disgraced former Uvalde school police officers were indicted Thursday over their failed response to the 2022 mass shooting.

Recall that on May 24th, 2022, former Robb Elementary School student Salvador Ramos, then 18, opened fire in the school, killing 21 innocent people. Following the incident, the police faced massive criticism for their slow, botched response to the shooting.

Among those who faced the heat were former school district police chief Pete Arredondo and former officer Adrian Gonzalez, both of whom were indicted on Thursday on charges of child endangerment.

As previously reported, the police waited 77 minutes before even attempting to confront and kill Ramos.

The indictments come months after the Department of Justice released a “critical incident review” criticizing the police for their failed response.

“The report documents ‘cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy, and training’ that all contributed to the failed law enforcement response that saw police officers wait more than 70 minutes in the school hallways before confronting and killing the gunman,” NPR noted.

“The most significant failure was that responding officers should have immediately recognized the incident as an active shooter situation, using the resources and equipment that were sufficient to push forward immediately and continuously toward the threat until entry was made into classrooms 111/112 and the threat was eliminated,” the report reads.

According to the report, the police initially got things right by arriving three minutes after Ramos and immediately confronting him. But after some officers were hit by shrapnel from Ramos’ gunfire, they retreated and began treating the situation as a “barricaded subject scenario and not as an active shooter situation,” the report says.

This reportedly was a major, major, major error in judgment.

“Despite their training and despite multiple events that indicated the subject continued to pose an active threat to students and staff in the building, including the likelihood and then confirmation of victims inside the room, officers on scene did not attempt to enter the room and stop the shooter for over an hour after they entered the building,” the report reads.

Instead, Chief Arredondo reportedly focused his attention on trying “to preserve and protect the lives of kids and teachers in the hot zone,” which again was a major error.

“This was a major contributing factor in the delay to making entry into rooms 111/112,” the report reads. “The time it took to evacuate the entire building was 43 minutes.”

Arredondo in particular was singled out various times in the report.

“It concludes that he was the de facto incident commander on the day, but that ‘he did not provide appropriate leadership, command, and control, including to establishing an incident command structure nor directing entry into classrooms 111 and 112,'” according to NPR.

This reportedly contributed to an absence of critical leadership.

“Leadership in law enforcement is absolutely critical, especially in moments of a dire challenge, such as the active shooter incident at Robb Elementary School,” the report says. “This leadership was absent for too long in the Robb Elementary School law enforcement response.”

The police also faced criticism from the DOJ for how they handled things after the mass shooting.

“The extent of misinformation, misguided and misleading narratives, leaks, and lack of communication about what happened on May 24 is unprecedented and has had an extensive, negative impact on the mental health and recovery of the family members and other victims, as well as the entire community of Uvalde,” the report says.

Family members of the victims of the Uvalde tragedy are glad that justice is finally being pursued, though it doesn’t take away from the pain they feel.

“[It’s] very emotional,” Jesse Rizo, the uncle of victim Jackie Cazares,  told local media. “I knew the day was going to come. I wasn’t sure how long it would take.”

He added that he hopes more indictments soon follow.

“It’s obvious what he [Arredondo] did was wrong,” Rizo said. “It’s obvious that he could’ve saved a lot of lives, but sitting there and looking for keys on a keychain for a long time. It’s just unacceptable.”

“I’m surprised that a lot of other officers weren’t charged. I’m disappointed in that but I am happy to see that there is finally judgment coming,” he added.

Vivek Saxena

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