Law Enforcement Judges Uvalde Police Response to Active Shooter
Killer left in classroom with injured children for over an hour
The horror and pain of the school shooting in Uvalde have been exacerbated by the new evidence showing hundreds of law enforcement leaving the attacker with injured children in a classroom for over an hour.
I know good members of law enforcement around the country have been torn up and angry from seeing the videos and reading the Texas House preliminary report showing the total failure of the responding police to do anything to save the children trapped in two classrooms.
For all of us on the other side of the Thin Blue Line, I want us to hear from veteran police to get their frank assessment of what went so wrong, and if anything could have saved those precious 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary.
“There is an element of law enforcement that people see us, and they feel safe. It’s in our oath to intervene,” said Zeek Arkham who was in law enforcement for 16 years.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if it was an active shooter, and I didn't engage. And to say I was afraid, or I was waiting for backup. I couldn’t fathom that.”
It should be more acceptable to go to 40 first responder funerals before 1 child’s funeral because that’s what WE signed up for when we took our oath.
Active shooter vs barricade
Arkham has extensive training in active shooter situations. He’s the host of the “Reasonable Suspicion” podcast:
In an active shooter situation, you go in and engage the shooter, you don't wait for a command. Your instinct as a cop is to go in and engage the shooter, but they didn’t do that.
Although this was clearly an active shooter scenario, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police Chief Pete Arredondo testified that he assumed the attacker was “cornered” and considered the situation as a “barricaded subject.”
Arredondo immediately called it a hostage situation. I’m a hostage negotiator —that changes the response. The way it is supposed to work in an active shooter situation is that as personnel arrive, someone immediately says, ‘I’m the incident commander.’
So one of those initial four or five responding officers should have said it, and then been relieved by someone at a higher rank - presume Pete Arrendondo, but he didn't take his radio. Then 400 others came, and it appears that no one took control.
The surveillance video in the hallway shows the attacker going to classrooms 111 and 112. He then fired 100 rounds in two and a half minutes, according to the Robb Elementary Investigative Committee Report Then two groups of officers entered the school from different directions. In the next five minutes, the attacker fired approximately 16 additional rounds.
Angel L Maysonet is a retired NYPD detective who was on the force for over 20 years and retired from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He has been publicly defending the Uvalde police.
If there was even one child alive to save, and they immediately breached the door, and that child was killed as a result, they’d be labeled “cowboys” and blamed.
From the report, it’s clear they were afraid. They were scared. They didn't want to endanger their own lives – which I’m trying to understand the human element – you want to go home and see your own family at the end of the day, especially at an elementary school. And they know a pistol isn’t going to match well against a rifle – I get that. But, you’re still tasked with saving lives.
The government report makes clear that Arredondo should have taken command and left the building to run the operation. Instead, he stayed in the hallway. He didn’t even have a radio because he left it outside.
Deputy Sheriff Sidney Blair has a long career in law enforcement at the national level – Secret Service, Air Marshal, Department of Homeland Security– and is now retired but working in Texas. He says the problem is unqualified people in law enforcement.
He’s a coward – Arredondo. He was put there as a political plant. You know how hard it is to get a $100,000 a year job in Uvalde, Texas? He’s a straight up politician running for City Council.
(Arredondo resigned his elected seat on the Uvalde City Council earlier this month.)
Meyer also believes first responders are not trained anymore to put themselves on the line:
These cops are cowards and there is NO EXCUSE. They should be held accountable but trust me when I say it’s not just their fault. It’s the systems fault…
The first responders who are willing to train and give their lives for someone else……. Are looked at as “reckless” “unsafe” “cowboys” by the fat, lazy, selfish pension chasers that are taking the taxpayer money.
It’s not police cowardice, it’s a lack of leadership. And after what has happened the last two years – what happens to cops who use deadly force? They go to jail. They get fired. They get indicted, They lose their pensions.
The report says that officers on the scene either assumed that Chief Arredondo was in charge or they didn’t know who was in charge of a scene described by several witnesses as “chaos” or a “cluster.”
Watching the Uvalde video really put a lot into perspective. Just the officers body language communication and their movements told me so much. They were like lost sheep.
Waiting for orders
There were 376 law enforcement officers at the school response, mostly state police and U.S. Border Patrol.
Deputy Sheriff Blair:
How do you get that many people at one time and in one place and all of them are eunuchs?
I’ve been in a number of gun fights and I sleep fine at night because they gave me no other option. If you don't have what it takes to do that you’re not in the right line of work.
The attacker was only stopped after one hour and 20 minutes when the Border Patrol agents finally breach the classroom without asking permission from Arredondo. However, the House report says, “We do not know at this time whether responders could have saved more lives by shortening that delay.”
I believe that in the back of every single police officer in this country, regardless of rank, they believe that they will be condemned and persecuted no matter what they do.
Whose fault is it? The first responding cops on the scene. They stopped and waited. They were supposed to engage the shooter, save live, and they failed to do that.”
You saw those initial officers’ responses. You put together an ad hoc team, and they go in, and they went in, and took fire, and they ran. I dont have a problem with them running to take cover. I have a problem with them not reengaging immediately.
I was just shocked that not a single officer ran back down that hallway. I think it was three officers that ran away from the gunfire. They were listening to their bosses on the radio instead of doing what they may have thought was right.
Deputy Sheriff Blair:
When you have law enforcement officers in this liability-ridden age they are used to asking for permission to do something.
The report says a student called 911 from inside the classroom, but that information never got to Chief Arredondo. The House report concluded that the officers who knew about the calls from inside the school rooms didn’t do anything to push for breaching the classrooms.
How are they to know it’s anything other than a hostage situation? He’s contained. Everything stops because if you go and breach that door, and he’s holding people hostage, then you’re going to get people killed.”
It wasn’t until the video came out that I could see those three officers went to the classroom, were fired upon, and then ran away. In our playbook —at LAPD —it would still be considered an active shooter.
If we have communicated with the bad guy, then it could’ve transitioned into a barricade or hostage. Without communication it’s always considered active.
In an active shooter situation, when you go through basic training you're supposed to clean the room. But if you hear the gunshots, you go to that room and assume it and they retreated and then went the other direction, which is directly against the rules to save lives and stop the active shooters
Deputy Sheriff Blair
The officer outside with the rifle who asked for permission– we dont ask for permission. You are a law enforcement office, your job is to pretect and serve.
They are used to standing there and being told what to do. It comes from the leadership in police work not wanting to make waves.
People also need to understand that for the last few years, American law enforcement has been vilified and defunded.
I don’t know why parental instinct or just human instinct didn’t take over. They just stood around and were waiting for orders.
The climate in this country has made incidents like this a no-win situation for law enforcement. I will never excuse inaction with a fear of persecution. I’m saying the anti-police vitriol in this country is endangering everyone
There is justified anger at the police that day, but, as the report says, there were no “villains” except for the killer.
The Uvalde police did not leave their homes that morning with the intent to kill innocent people. But they didn’t uphold their oath. They will have to live with that on their conscience. But only one evil mass murderer is to blame for the murder of those innocent children.
Paid subscribers: Below, you’ll read my take on what the Uvalde disaster means for policing in America. I’ll also tell you how I know Deputy Sheriff Blair. It’s a wild D.C. story of my outting a federal law enforcement officer because of author Brad Thor. Keep reading…