UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The varsity district police chief criticized for waiting too long before ordering law enforcement to confront and kill the gunman during a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school didn’t appear at a City Council meeting in Uvalde on Tuesday, despite being newly elected to the panel.
Mayor Don McLaughlin said he was unable to clarify why the district police Chief Pete Arredondo wasn’t on the temporary meeting. Two weeks ago, 19 students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Law enforcement and state officials have struggled to present an accurate timeline and details, and have stopped releasing information concerning the police response.
McLaughlin told reporters on the meeting that he was frustrated with the lack of expertise.
“We would like facts and answers, similar to everybody else,” the mayor said.
Steven McCraw, the pinnacle of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said Arredondo, who was in command of the multi-agency response on May 24, made the “flawed decision” to not order officers to breach the classroom more quickly to confront the gunman.
Because the mayor spoke in Uvalde on Tuesday, lawmakers in Washington heard testimony from the son of a girl who was killed in a recent mass shooting in Buffalo, Recent York, as lawmakers work toward a bipartisan agreement on gun safety measures. And at a White House press briefing, actor Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde native, spoke with passion about his conversations with the families of the children who were killed and the necessity for more stringent gun control.
The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, spent roughly 80 minutes inside Robb Elementary, and greater than an hour passed from when the primary officers followed him into the constructing and when he was killed, in accordance with an official timeline. Within the meantime, parents outside begged police to rush in and panicked children called 911 from inside.
Arredondo has not responded to repeated interview requests and questions from The Associated Press.
After the City Council meeting, Alfred Garza III, whose 10-year-old daughter, Amerie Jo, was among the many Uvalde students killed, told reporters that he attended the meeting to see what else he could find out about what happened that day.
“I actually have so many questions and never each one might be answered. They’re still collecting data, they’re still collecting information on what happened,” Garza said.
He said he had been curious as as to whether Arredondo would attend the meeting, and said he had “mixed feelings” concerning the district police chief’s absence.
“He obviously didn’t show up for a reason,” Garza said, adding that he assumed Arredondo thought if he did appear he would get lots of questions.
Garza said he doesn’t have “lots of in poor health will” toward Arredondo, nor does he blame only one person for what happened, but he does think more might have been done that day.
“They did take an extended time to get in there,” Garza said.
For the reason that shooting, there have been tensions between state and native authorities over how police handled the shooting and communicated what happened to the general public.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has begun referring questions on the investigation to the Uvalde-area district attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee. She hasn’t responded to repeated interview requests and questions from AP.
McLaughlin said he has asked officials for a briefing but “we’re not getting it.”
He said town’s police chief was on vacation on the time of the shooting and that the acting city police commander was on the scene.
More on the college shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting
Stengle reported from Dallas.