Texas state investigators are probing whether Uvalde Schools Police Chief Peter Arredondo even had a police radio on him when he made the disastrous decision to have officers stand back — instead of confronting shooter Salvador Ramos, who killed 19 kids, a law enforcement source told The Post.
The lack of a police radio may explain why Arredondo decided to hold officers back as multiple students called 911 from inside the school begging for help, investigators with the state’s Department of Public Safety believe.
“That’s going to be key,” the source said, “If those 911 calls were being communicated to the officers or the incident commander.”
Ramos crashed a pickup truck into a ditch outside Robb Elementary Tuesday, who quickly started shooting, and climbed a fence before gaining entry through a door left propped open, officials have said.
Cops entered the school about two minutes after the gunman, who barricaded himself in a classroom, where all 21 victims were slain. But officials have said Arrendondo ordered officers to hold off entering the classroom, despite pleas from parents outside that someone try to save the children.
“We’re still trying to determine if he had a radio on him, if he was monitoring the communication channels,” the source said. “If they were being relayed, it also raises questions as to why it was not treated as an active shooter situation.”
“The problem right now is there’s so much confusion,” about who was on the scene, the source said, noting officers from multiple agencies rushed to the school once the 911 calls started coming in.
Arredondo, who was the highest ranking officer and among the first to arrive, refused to speak to The Post on Saturday morning, but has already spoken with the Texas Rangers, who are conducting the interviews for the state Department of Public Safety investigation into the response at Robb Elementary School, the source said.
Officials have said Arrendondo believed they needed more equipment and more officers before they stormed the classroom. Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a briefing Friday that he “made the wrong decision.”
But one cop who was on the scene told the Post that Arrendondo was wrongly blamed.
“It’s a lie that [Pete] Arrendondo told everyone to stand down,” said the officer, who didn’t want to be named. “It’s a lie. And we’re all getting death threats. It’s a f—g nightmare.”
Arrendondo, an Uvalde native who is set to join Uvalde’s City Council after he won 70% of the vote earlier this month, had plenty of active shooter training to fall back on, one of his former bosses said.
Ray Garner, who supervised Arredondo when he worked at Laredo’s school district, called Arredondo an “excellent officer” and said, “Down here, we do a lot of training on active-shooter scenarios, and he was involved in those. We train [officers] to go straight for the shooters and neutralize them.”
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In fact, the school district hosted an active shooter drill just two months ago at Uvalde High School. The state-mandated curriculum for the training included a section on an active shooting morphing into a “barricade crisis.”