City of Uvalde is trying to cover up records on police chief who bungled response

EXCLUSIVE: Uvalde covers up records on top cop Pete Arredondo who led the bungled police response to the school shooter as city tries to wriggle out of divulging information requested by DailyMail.com and others under Texas sunshine laws

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The City of Uvalde is trying to cover up records on the top cop who led the bungled police response to the active shooter situation at an elementary school last month.

Lawyers hired by the Texas city last week wrote to state attorney general Ken Paxton trying to wriggle out of divulging information requested by DailyMail.com and others under the state’s sunshine laws.

In the letter, attorneys at Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech revealed 148 requests for information had been made to the City from May 25, 2022 through June 7, 2022 by media organizations and individuals.

The city claims it has no obligation to give up any information to any of the requests, listing 52 excuses in the letter that it says lets it off the hook from requirements under the Texas Public Information Act.

Among the information Uvalde local government is trying to hide are any records on Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who was in charge of the police response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School last month that led to 21 deaths.

Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo has been widely blamed for the disastrous police handling of the massacre at an elementary school
18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos (pictured) killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 leaving many schools in the country on edge

The City of Uvalde, Texas is trying to cover up records, including reports involving School Police Chief Pete Arredondo (left), who has been widely blamed for the disastrous response to elementary school shooter Salvador Ramos (right) last month, DailyMail.com can reveal 

An aerial view shows law enforcement at the scene of Robb Elementary School where 21 people were killed in a mass shooting on May 24

An aerial view shows law enforcement at the scene of Robb Elementary School where 21 people were killed in a mass shooting on May 24

This is how the shooting played out over the course of nearly two hours from when gunman Salvador Ramos shot his grandmother at home

This is how the shooting played out over the course of nearly two hours from when gunman Salvador Ramos shot his grandmother at home

Arredondo, now a city councilor, has been the focus of intense criticism, blamed for the hour-long wait to bust into the classroom where injured children were bleeding out and the killer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was hiding.  

In their letter to the Texas AG, lawyers requested a ‘decision from the attorney general about whether the requested information is excepted from disclosure under the Public Information Act.’  

‘The City claims that the requested information is not information that is collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by a governmental body or for a governmental body or is excepted from disclosure,’ the letter, signed by attorney Cynthia Trevino, adds. 

The AG’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The New York Times reported last week that Arredondo, 50, knew there were people alive but injured in the locked classrooms, based on the transcript of police body cam footage from the shooting.

The Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw appeared to lay blame for the delayed response at Arredondo’s feet in a press conference after the shooting.

McCraw said the school police chief treated Ramos as a ‘barricaded suspect’ rather than an active shooter and so waited for backup. ‘It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that,’ he said.

Two weeks ago the Texas Department of Public Safety claimed that Arredondo had stopped cooperating with state investigators and did not respond for two days to their requests.

Arredondo denied the allegation, telling CNN he had been ‘on the phone with them every day’.

In the letter, attorneys at Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech revealed 148 requests for information had been made to the City from May 25, 2022 through June 7, 2022 by media organizations and individuals

In the letter, attorneys at Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech revealed 148 requests for information had been made to the City from May 25, 2022 through June 7, 2022 by media organizations and individuals

The city claims it has no obligation to give up any information to any of the requests, listing 52 excuses in the letter

The city claims it has no obligation to give up any information to any of the requests, listing 52 excuses in the letter

In an interview with the Texas Tribune last week, he admitted he failed to act as the incident commander despite police rules. 

‘While it’s easy to identify him as the incident commander because of that NIMS [National Incident Management System] process, in practicality, you see here he was not in the capacity to be able to run this entire organization,’ his lawyer, George Hyde, told the Tribune.

Arredondo also said he left his radio behind on purpose, because it would fall off if he ran and he needed two hands for his gun.

Arredondo was elected as a city councilor with 126 votes on May 7, weeks before the shooting on May 24 and was swornone week later

Arredondo was elected as a city councilor with 126 votes on May 7, weeks before the shooting on May 24 and was swornone week later

The school district police chief said he entered the building but spent an hour in the corridor trying to get into the two connected, locked classrooms where Ramos and the injured children were.

He was unable to break down the door because it was reinforced with a steel jamb, he said.

‘The only thing that was important to me at this time was to save as many teachers and children as possible,’ Arredondo told the Tribune.

Rather than being cowardly or bungling, the chief’s lawyer described him as resolutely sticking to his dangerous position in the school hallway despite not having body armor.

Hyde claimed that when an officer offered to cover Arredondo so he could run out and get protection, the chief replied ‘F*** you. I’m not leaving this hallway.’ 

Police tactics expert and former assistant police chief of Springfield, Missouri, Steve Ijames, told the newspaper it was ‘inconceivable’ that Arredondo’s team didn’t have a plan, and that ditching his radio was highly unusual. 

‘I’ve never heard anything like that in my life,’ he said. 

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw appeared to lay blame for the delayed response at Arredondo's feet in a May 27 press conference after the shooting

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw appeared to lay blame for the delayed response at Arredondo’s feet in a May 27 press conference after the shooting

Heartbreaking photos revealed how young school children were forced to flee through a broken window to get to safety after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the school

Heartbreaking photos revealed how young school children were forced to flee through a broken window to get to safety after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the school 

Authorities say Ramos began shooting at the building as he approached. Bullet holes are seen in the window of a classroom

Authorities say Ramos began shooting at the building as he approached. Bullet holes are seen in the window of a classroom

The investigation has been surrounded by other conflicting statements and confusion.

Salvador Ramos, 18, barricaded himself in a classroom and killed 19 kids and two teachers before being shot dead by police

Salvador Ramos, 18, barricaded himself in a classroom and killed 19 kids and two teachers before being shot dead by police

In the days after the mass killing, law enforcement claimed a teacher had propped open a back door to the school that allowed Ramos entry but later walked back the claim, admitting that the door was closed.

The US Department of Justice announced Wednesday it has appointed a team of nine experts to investigate the cops’ response to the shooting.

The DoJ said the review will ‘provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses, identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events, and provide a roadmap for community safety and engagement before, during and after such incidents.’

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said investigators will make visits to Uvalde and interview law enforcement, teachers and others.

Arredondo was elected as a city councilor with 126 votes on May 7 – weeks before the shooting on May 24 and was sworn in last Tuesday.

According to the Associated Press, he missed his first city council meeting.

Both the city mayor Don McLaughlin and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell have refused to say whether Arredondo still has his job as police chief of the school district.

TIMELINE OF TERROR: HOW THE UVALDE SCHOOL UNFOLDED

May 24, 11.28am: Gunman crashes truck, gets out of car with AR-15

He is seen by witnesses in a funeral home next to the school who tell 911 they see a man with a gun walking towards the school

11.31: Gunman is now in the parking lot of the school hiding in between vehicles, shooting at the building

11.32: School resource officer who arrives in a patrol car after hearing 911 call about truck crash drives past the shooter

11.33: Gunman enters the school and begins shooting into room 111/room 112. He shoots more than 100 rounds

11.35: Three police officers enter through the same door as the suspect. They are later followed by another four, making total of seven officers on scene

Three initial officers go directly to the door. Two receive grazing wounds from Ramos while the door was closed. They hang back

11.37: Another 16 rounds are fired inside the classroom by the gunman

11.51: Police sergeant and USB agents arrive

12.03: Officers continue to arrive in the hallway. As many as 19 officers in that hallway at that time

At the same time, a girl from inside the classroom calls 911 and whispers that she is in room 112

12.10pm: The same girl calls back and advises ‘there are multiple dead’

12.13pm: The same girl calls again

12.16pm: The same girl calls 911 for the fourth time in 13 minutes asking for help

12.15pm: A Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) arrives with shields

12.16pm: The same unidentified girl calls 911 and says there are ‘8-9 students alive’ in classroom 112

12.19pm: A different child from classroom 111 calls. She hangs up when another student tells her to be quiet

12.21pm: Gunman fires again

12.26pm: One of the girls who previously called 911 calls back again. She says the shooter has just ‘shot at the door’

12.43pm: The girl is still on the line. She says “please send the police now”

12.50pm: Police finally breach the door using keys from the janitor and kill gunman

12.51pm Officers start moving children out of the room

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