We all know about Chief Pete Arredondo who probably should have been in charge during the Uvalde shooting last year but who, for reasons that aren’t clear, never felt he was in charge. Today, the Washington Post published a detailed investigation that found there were at least seven other high-ranking officers on the scene that day, each with decades of experience. Any one of them could have ordered a group of officers to charge the shooter, but instead every one of them was content to remain outside or at the end of the hallway. In some cases, these officers even actively discouraged other officers from going in to confront the shooter, warning that they would just get shot.
One of the officers who is featured in this investigation is Sgt. Daniel Coronado. He was one of the first officers on the scene that day. He heard the first shots that were fired before the gunman entered the school. And then there were more shots as the shooter entered a classroom and began shooting students who were hiding under their desks. Instead of rushing inside, Coronado got back in his truck and drove around the school, supposedly to cut off the shooter’s escape.
The footage shows him parked nearby and taking cover as gunshots erupt. Coronado told investigators he then drove to the other side of Robb Elementary, thinking the gunman would try to flee in that direction.
“I still couldn’t believe that his whole mission was to take out kids. Never. It doesn’t cross your mind,” Coronado said in a post-shooting interview with investigators. “I think at that moment I still was thinking, okay, maybe he’s engaging officers or he’s just shooting to get away.”
Inside, two officers did approach the room and the gunman started firing again. They were both hit with shrapnel. And that was the last time anyone tried to enter the room for more than an hour. Sgt. Coronado was the first to describe the suspect as “barricaded” over the radio.
At 11:40 a.m. — four minutes after the officers are injured — Coronado radioed that the suspect was barricaded, according to a review of body-camera footage and available audio.
The Uvalde police department defines an active shooter as an armed individual likely to use “deadly force in an ongoing manner” and who has injured, killed or threatened other people, according to the agency’s officer guidelines. In a barricaded shooter scenario, an assailant is contained with little or no ability to harm others.
Coronado told investigators that he saw no signs of injuries, leading him to assume no children were at risk — even though during a lockdown, students are trained to stay quiet.
So, to be clear, the theory was that the suspected was barricaded because no injuries had been seen by Coronado or others. But when one of their own officers said his wife, who was a teacher, had been shot and needed help, they turned him away. And when children inside the room called and said there were injured people who needed help, they still treated the shooter as a barricaded suspect. Something like 45 minutes was spent looking for a master key to unlock the door which it turns out had never been locked. No one ever tried the door so they didn’t know.
Sgt. Coronado and six other ranking officers mentioned in this report still have their jobs despite near certainty that their failures cost lives that day.
Three victims emerged from the school with a pulse but later died. For teacher Eva Mireles, 44, and Lopez, 10, critical resources were not available when medics expected they would be, delaying hospital treatment, an investigation by The Post, the Texas Tribune and ProPublica found last year. Another student, Cazares, 9, likely survived for more than an hour after being shot and died in an ambulance.
Here’s the full video investigation which is about 30 minutes long.
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