“‘Obviously, not enough training was done in this situation, plain and simple. Because terrible decisions were made by the on-site commander.’”
— Col. Steve McCraw, Texas public safety director
Almost a month after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, more and more criticism is being levied against the police response — or lack thereof — while a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24.
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Col. Steve McCraw, testified at a state Senate hearing investigating the tragedy on Tuesday that the Uvalde law enforcement’s response was an “abject failure.”
“Obviously, not enough training was done in this situation, plain and simple. Because terrible decisions were made by the on-site commander,” McCraw said of of Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo, according to the Associated Press.
He told the Texas Senate committee that Arredondo put the lives of officers ahead of the children’s lives.
Some of the victims’ family members have also demanded that the Uvalde school district’s police chief step down or be fired as it’s come to light that officers waited almost an hour at the school before making a move against the gunman. Here’s a timeline of the Uvalde shooting — and the police response — that the Texas Tribune put together.
And during a school board meeting on Monday night, at least one parent said the law enforcement official in question “killed our kids.”
“We were failed by Pete Arredondo. He killed our kids, teachers, parents and city, and by keeping him on your staff, y’all are continuing to fail us,” local NBC affiliate KXAN reported Brett Cross, who identified himself as a father of a murdered student, saying during the emotional meeting.
“Having Pete still employed, knowing he is incapable of decision-making that saves lives, is terrifying,” he said. “Do what is right. Remove Pete from employment.”
“I find it shameful that we had almost 100 officers on the scene, and I had to leave work and save my own,” another parent, Angeli Gomez, is reported to have said.
And a man there on behalf of friends and family of those killed said “it’s an insult to injury” to have Arredondo still employed, according to KXAN.
Questions about the police response to the tragedy began in the days following the massacre, and McGraw said on May 27 that Arredondo made “the wrong decision” when he decided not to have officers storm the classroom.
Documents reviewed by Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, which were to be presented at the Texas Senate hearing on Tuesday, say that multiple officers carrying rifles and at least one ballistic shield were on the scene within 19 minutes of the gunman arriving at the school, which is earlier than previously known, yet they stood and waited in a school hallway for nearly an hour.
Arredondo later said he didn’t consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. Authorities have also given conflicting accounts about what happened that day at Robb Elementary School — sometimes even withdrawing statements just hours after making them.
Associated Press reporting contributed to this article.