NY Times: Chief Arredondo arrived at Robb Elementary without a police radio

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

The NY Times has done a deep-dive into what went wrong with the Uvalde police response to an active shooter. Why did it take more than 75 minutes for police to finally breach the room where the shooter was barricaded with his victims? That’s a question a lot of people nationwide have been asking. The Times suggests one of the factors was that Chief Arredondo showed up at the scene without a police radio.


The gunman could still be heard firing repeatedly, and Mr. Arredondo, as chief of the small school district police force in Uvalde, took charge.

But there were problems from the start.

Chief Arredondo did not have a police radio with him, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation, which may have impeded his immediate ability to communicate with police dispatchers. As two supervisors from the local police department were grazed by bullets fired by the gunman, he made a decision to fall back, the official said.

Using a cellphone, the chief called a police land line with a message that set the stage for what would prove to be a disastrous delay in interrupting the attack: The gunman has an AR-15, he told them, but he is contained; we need more firepower and we need the building surrounded…

The decision to establish a perimeter outside the classroom, a little over five minutes after the shooting began, shifted the police response from one in which every officer would try to confront the gunman as fast as possible to one where officers treated the gunman as barricaded and no longer killing. Instead of storming the classroom, a decision was made to deploy a negotiator and to muster a more heavily armed and shielded tactical entry force.


The Times story does not explicitly say that Chief Arredondo did not have a radio later on when calls were coming in to 911 from inside the classroom. But the general outlines of the story suggest the lack of a radio may be why the AP reported yesterday that Arredondo didn’t know about those 911 calls. Personally, I agree with Allahpundit that it’s hard to imagine Arredondo wasn’t told by anyone present about those calls. I guess we’ll have to wait for the results of the investigation on that point.

In any case, the Times story also confirms what we’ve heard about the eventual decision by an ad hoc group of officers to breach the door. They got tired of waiting and even when they were ordered not to breach they went in anyway.

After more than an hour, the ad hoc group of officers who had arrived ready to attack the gunman was growing impatient, and decided to move in.

One of the members — equipped with an ear piece and small microphone — quietly announced over the radio that the group was preparing to go into the classrooms. At that point, a voice responded, telling them not to breach the doors.

They ignored the directive.

The voice on the radio isn’t identified in the story. Was that Cheif Arredondo? Did he finally get a radio? It’s still not clear and he didn’t speak to the Times for the story.


The initial response by officers moments after the shooter entered the school was the right one. They attempted to confront him and were fired upon. Arredondo’s decision to hold back and wait was wrong. Even if he’d had a radio and change course in response to those 911 calls that came in 30-40 minutes later, he’d still have already delayed the response far too long.

The incident finally ended when a group of officers decided to ignore him and follow their training. So not only did Chief Arredondo make the wrong call initially, he never made the right one. Radio or not, that’s on him.

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