Uvalde, TX – A Uvalde City Council swearing-in ceremony for the incident commander who held police back during the response to the Robb Elementary School massacre was postponed indefinitely on Monday, according to the mayor.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department (UCISDPD) Chief Pete Arredondo was scheduled to be sworn in for his new position on the Uvalde City Council on May 31, but the ceremony was ultimately cancelled to allow the city to keep its focus on the victims of the school shooting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced on Monday, according to Newsweek.
“Our focus Tuesday is on our families who lost loved ones,” McLaughlin said in a statement, according to the El Paso Times. “We begin burying our children tomorrow, the innocent victims of last week’s murders at Robb Elementary School.”
It is unclear when Chief Arredondo’s swearing-in might occur.
“Pete Arredondo was duly elected to the City Council,” Mclaughlin added, according to Newsweek. “There is nothing in the city charter, election code or Texas Constitution that prohibits him from taking the oath of office. To our knowledge, we are currently not aware of any investigation of Mr. Arredondo.”
Chief Arredondo, 50, grew up in Uvalde and spent the bulk of his nearly 30-year law enforcement career serving his local community, KXAS reported.
He was elected to the City Council earlier in May.
McLaughlin’s announcement came just one day after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would be conducting a review of the law enforcement response to the May 24 Robb Elementary School shooting.
“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events,” he added.
During a press conference on May 27, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw released new details about the shooting, to include acknowledging that the commander at the scene made the “wrong decision” by treating the situation as a barricaded suspect instead of an active shooter.
Director McCraw identified the on-scene commander as Chief Arredondo.
“The on-scene commander considered a barricaded subject and that there was time and there were no children at risk,” Director McCraw said. “Obviously, you know, based on the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk, and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject.”
Twenty-one people were killed and 17 more were injured during the May 24 attack, Forbes reported.
Nineteen of the murdered victims were children.
In the wake of the horrific Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999, protocols were developed requiring law enforcement officers to engage active shooters immediately to help prevent loss of life, USA Today reported.
The DOJ investigation is expected to help answer questions regarding the delay that took place at Robb Elementary between the time police arrived at the scene and the moment they fatally shot the gunman.
During that delayed response, children inside the classroom repeatedly called 911, pleading for police to save them, USA Today reported.
Cell phone footage released by ABC News on Tuesday appeared to capture police radio transmissions from a 911 dispatcher during the school shooting.
“Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims,” the dispatcher alerted at one point. “Full of victims at this moment.”
The dispatcher provided another update minutes later, saying there were “eight to nine children” inside.
It is unclear whether or not the on-scene commander was aware of those transmissions.
Director McCraw said that the on-scene commander determined the incident had “transitioned” into a “barricaded subject situation” as opposed to an active shooter situation and believed the children were not at risk.
Negotiators attempted to communicate with the gunman at some point, but he would not respond, according to Director Escalon.
Officers waited for a janitor to bring keys to the classroom so they could make entry, which occurred at 12:50 p.m., WPXI reported.
Parents outside the school were seen arguing with officers and pleading with them to go inside the building as the shooting occurred, but officials said additional officers were already inside the building at the time.
Some officers went inside, some pulled children from windows, some came under fire, and some established and maintained a perimeter, DPS Spokesperson Lieutenant Chris Olivares said on May 26, according to CNN.
Director McCraw said the officers heard gunfire before they breached the room and fatally shot the suspect.
He said that with “the benefit of hindsight,” he can say the on-site commander made a grave mistake by not storming the room sooner, NBC News reported.
“Of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period,” Director McCraw said. “There were children in that classroom that were still at risk.”
The director said the on-site incident commander also held back U.S. Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers from engaging the gunman prior to the breach, WPXI reported.
Just two months prior to the massacre, UCISD held an “active shooter scenario training” for local “Peace Officers, School Resource Officers, and campus security officers,” according to FOX News.
The training, titled, “Active Shooter for School-Based Law Enforcement,” took place at Uvalde High School on March 21.
“On Monday the UCISD Police Department hosted an ‘Active Shooter Training’ at the Uvalde High School,” the police department said in a Facebook post. “Our overall goal is to train every Uvalde area law enforcement officer so that we can prepare as best as possible for any situation that may arise.”
According a training course guide for the active shooter training program, a key goal of the course was to make sure attendees walked out with the ability to “compare/contrast an active shooter event and a hostage or barricade crisis,” FOX News reported.