A local police chief in Uvalde, Texas, hasn’t responded for a follow-up interview in a state investigation into the law enforcement response to an elementary school massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead, an official said Tuesday.
Peter Arredondo, the police chief of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, participated in an initial interview but has not yet answered requests for follow-ups made two days ago, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
DPS spokesman Travis Considine said that “Uvalde and Uvalde CISD departments have been cooperating with investigators,” but added that Arredondo has not responded to requests for additional interviews.
Arredondo is said to be the incident commander who incorrectly believed the gunman to be a barricaded suspect and ordered officers to remain outside during the shooting.
After more than an hour, federal agents disobeying the chief’s orders entered the school and fatally shot the gunman.
The acknowledgment last week that authorities did not immediately target the shooter was met with fury from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who said he was “livid” over initial reports of a swift police response.
Investigators need to “get to the very seconds of exactly what happened with 100 percent accuracy and explain it to the public and most importantly to the victims who have been devastated,” he said.
Arredondo hasn’t responded to requests for comment on the botched handling of the shooting, but the mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, rejected assertions that local officials had falsely portrayed the initial response.
“All statements and comments made to date about the ongoing investigation are being handled by DPS/Texas Rangers,” he said in a statement Monday.
A state police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said Tuesday that it was advising members to cooperate with official government investigations.
“There has been a great deal of false and misleading information in the aftermath of this tragedy,” the group said in a statement. “Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement. Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false.”
The Uvalde school police department is not affiliated with the union, a spokeswoman for the group said.
According to law enforcement records obtained by NBC News, Arredondo, who has been chief since 2020, completed an eight-hour “active shooter training mandate” course Dec. 17.
Arredondo was elected May 7 to the Uvalde City Council. His swearing-in ceremony had been planned for Tuesday but was postponed so the city can focus on the victims, McLaughlin said.
Also Tuesday, authorities said that initial reports of the gunman entering the school through a door propped open by a teacher were incorrect, the Associated Press reported.
The teacher, who has not been identified, removed a rock she had been using to keep the door open and ran back inside after learning there was a gunman on campus, Considine told the AP.
The door did not lock, Considine said, adding: “We know that much and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock.”
Abbott declared a disaster in Uvalde on Tuesday, allowing state and other resources to reach the city more quickly.
“The community of Uvalde has been left devastated by last week’s senseless act of violence at Robb Elementary School and should not have to encounter any difficulty in receiving the support needed to heal,” Abbott said.
On Monday, the Texas community began services for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Funerals and visitations are scheduled throughout this week and into the middle of next month.
Alicia Victoria Lozano and Associated Press contributed.