8:22 AM PDT, June 2, 2022
The embattled school police chief being blamed for the delay in police response to the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has broken his silence.
Chief Pete Arredondo has denied reports that he’s refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
CNN confronted Arredondo about claims that he is refusing to cooperate with Texas authorities investigating the botched delay in stopping the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers last week in what authorities have said is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
“We’ve been in touch with the [Department of Public Safety] every day, just so you all know, every day,” he said.
When told that the Texas Department of Public Safety said he was not cooperating, Arredondo said, “I’ve been on the phone with them every day.”
But in a statement released before that interview, the Texas Department of Public Safety said, “The chief of the Uvalde [School District] police provided an initial interview but has not responded to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers that was made two days ago.”
Yesterday, Arredondo was sworn in as a newly elected member of the City Council. The ceremony was not open to the public. “Uvalde City Council members were sworn in today as per the city charter,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days, no ceremony was held.”
But some criticized that Arredondo was sworn in at all.
“Rewarding failure,” one person on Twitter wrote.
“During a week where the words accountability and transparency have been all over the news and on people’s mouths, Uvalde City Council holding a secret ceremony is quite something,” Texas-based NPR reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltrán wrote.
McLaughlin said there was nothing preventing him from taking his new position. “There is nothing in the city charter, Election code, or Texas constitution that prohibits him from taking the oath of office,” he said.
The uproar with which authorities have been met comes as victims of the shooting are remembered at their funerals and by those close to them. Teacher Irma Garcia was laid to rest with her husband Joe, who died of a broken heart two days later. Amerie Jo Garza was praised by the Girl Scouts for courageously calling 911 and doing “all she could to save the lives of her classmates and teachers,” and in the process, giving her life “attempting to protect those around her.”
Meanwhile, a recorded message sent to parents following the shooting has shed light on the directions some students’ families were given amid the chaos.
“There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus,” said the recording obtained by KSAT.
And police have backtracked on claims that a door at the school was propped open, allowing the shooter to walk in. Authorities now say a teacher closed the door behind her, but it did not lock automatically as it should.