On Monday, a Texas school board said that school district police officers will return to work this fall despite not being evaluated for their response to May’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The school board explained that they never conducted a complete probe as they prioritized Uvalde Schools police chief Pete Arredondo’s assessment. The board fired Arredondo last week, but residents have asked for the other officers to remain suspended until they also undergo an evaluation, according to ABC News.
While officials said all schools in the district will have a single point of entry, a board member admitted that not all the doors and frames intended to secure the building have been delivered to the schools because some are on backorder. The board also said that they have not hired the promised number of police officers and guidance counselors, ABC News reported.
A Texas House committee report on the tragedy this summer blamed law enforcement at all levels, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Prior to the legislative report, Texas Department of Public Safety director Colonel Steven McCraw called the response to the May 24 shooting an “abject failure” and blamed Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district police.
McCraw said Arredondo failed to promptly confront 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos despite being the on-scene commander. McCraw said Arredondo had what he needed to breach the classroom where the gunman was within three minutes, but officers stayed in the hallway for 77 minutes.
Video footage obtained suggests that officers stood by after the initial gunfire, even as the gunman fired four additional rounds. Officers remained inactive even after asking for keys for a presumably unlocked classroom and gathering tear gas, gas masks, and a sledgehammer.
An officer is heard saying they are “making entry” at one point, but it does not occur.
Various agencies responded to the scene, including Texas Rangers, U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Marshals Service. Despite this, it was an hour and 14 minutes before anyone entered the classroom and fatally shot Ramos. By then, 21 people died in that classroom.
Arredondo told the media that he did not bring his two radios as he believed they would weigh him down. He also claimed he spent an hour trying to unlock a classroom door that separated him and the gunman.
However, officials now believe Ramos had barricaded himself in an unlocked classroom, and students waited more than an hour to be rescued.
Further, security footage reportedly showed that police never tried to open the classroom door — which would contradict Arredondo’s claims that he spent an hour in the hallway trying to locate a key that would open the door.
Families of some of the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School plan to file a $27 billion class-action lawsuit in September. Texas law enforcement and the manufacturer of the gun used in the mass shooting will be listed as defendants.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:
[Featured image: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]