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Uvalde's School District Police Chief Intentionally Left Radios Behind When Responding To Mass Shooting

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Uvalde's School District Police Chief Intentionally Left Radios Behind When Responding To Mass Shooting

Uvalde's School District police chief has said he intentionally left his radios behind when responding to reports of an active shooter at Robb Elementary School.

Pete Arredondo was one of the first responders to arrive on the scene in Texas after reports of the shooter came in on 24 May, when 19 children and two teachers ended up dying at the hands of the gunman.

It wasn't until 77 minutes after the mass shooting first began that police officers were able to unlock the door standing between them and the shooter, and Arredondo has said said the 'only thing that was important' to him as he responded was to 'save as many teachers and children as possible'.

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A total of 21 people died in the shooting. Credit: Shutterstock
A total of 21 people died in the shooting. Credit: Shutterstock

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, the chief discussed his decision to leave his police and campus radios outside the school; a choice which ultimately prevented him from using them to contact other officers throughout the entire ordeal.

Arredondo claimed he didn't want to waste any time; that carrying the radios would slow him down and without them he would have both hands free to hold his gun and fire quickly if he encountered the shooter.

One of the radios had an antenna which would hit him as he ran, Arredondo said, while the other had a clip which he believed would ultimately cause it to fall from his tactical belt.

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On the scene, Arredondo almost immediately teamed up with a Uvalde police officer and began checking classrooms for the shooter.

Children and teachers were calling 911 for help. Credit: Alamy
Children and teachers were calling 911 for help. Credit: Alamy

The door to the room the gunman was in was secured with a steel jamb designed to keep out an attacker, and ultimately preventing the police from knocking it down. While officers waited outside for a key, the shooter is believed to have fired his gun at least two more times.

Inside the classrooms, children and teachers were calling 911 for help; information the dispatchers were relaying, according to Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials.

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Arredondo said he was not aware of the 911 calls due to the fact he didn't have his radios, and because no one else in the hallway passed on the information amid efforts to remain quiet. The police chief's lawyer told the Tribune that even if they had radios, the officers would have turned them off to avoid giving away their location.

Arredondo used his mobile to call police dispatch and ask for a SWAT team, snipers and extrication tools such as a fire hook to open the door.

Arredondo was unable to communicate with other officers using his radio. Credit: Alamy
Arredondo was unable to communicate with other officers using his radio. Credit: Alamy

Following the shooting, DPS officials described Arredondo as the incident commander and claimed he had encouraged responders to treat the incident as a 'barricaded suspect', which halted the attempt to take down the shooter.

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Arredondo told the Tribune he never considered himself the scene’s incident commander, and claimed he 'didn't issue any orders'.

An Uvalde police officer on the scene with Arredondo at one point offered to cover for him while he went to retrieve body armour, which the police chief wasn't wearing. However, Arredondo refused, with the officer claiming he 'wasn’t going to leave without those kids'.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, US News, Texas, Crime

Emily Brown
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