The Uvalde school police chief, who has come under fire for his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, is now claiming that he was never the incident commander on the scene and that he did not issue orders directing responding officers to stand down. For the first time, Pete Arredondo is describing what he claims happened on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, when gunman Salvador Ramos massacred 19 children and two teachers.
"Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children," Arredondo said. "We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat."
Since the massacre, authorities have been bombarded by public questions about why they did not confront Ramos sooner. Responding cops didn't engage the gunman right away, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, because "the on-scene commander at the time" — whom he identified as Arredondo – "believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject."
However, Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District's chief of police, said he never considered himself in that position while the shooting unfolded.
"I didn’t issue any orders," Arredondo said, noting that he "called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door" to the classroom that Ramos was inside.
It was alleged that the group of US Border Patrol agents that killed Ramos were warned not to enter the classroom through their earpieces at one time, but Arredondo's lawyer stated his client didn't say it, and if it was, he isn't sure who said it.
"It’s not that someone said stand down," said Arredondo’s attorney, George Hyde. "It was ‘Right now, we can’t get in until we get the tools. So we’re going to do what we can do to save lives.’ And what was that? It was to evacuate the students and the parents and the teachers out of the rooms."
Arredondo also said in an interview that he tried dozens of keys to try to gain entry through the door separating police from Ramos.
"Each time I tried a key I was just praying," he added.
Following the shooting, Arredondo got death threats and claims he didn't come out sooner because he didn't want to add to the community's pain, according to the website.