Lawmaker: Chief at Scene Wasn't Told of 911 Calls

Uvalde had a 'system failure' in communicating information, state senator says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2022 5:47 PM CDT
Lawmaker: Chief at Scene Wasn't Told of 911 Calls
Jolean Olvedo, left, weeps Tuesday while being comforted by her partner Natalia Gutierrez at a memorial for Robb Elementary School students and teachers who were killed in last week's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The commander overseeing police during a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was not informed of panicked 911 calls coming from students trapped inside, and it's unclear who at the scene was aware of the calls as the massacre of 19 students and two teachers unfolded, a Texas state senator said Thursday. Sen. Roland Gutierrez said it was a "system failure" that school district police Chief Pete Arredondo received no word of the pleas for help from people inside Robb Elementary School on May 24, the AP reports. "I want to know specifically who was receiving the 911 calls," Gutierrez said during a news conference.

His voice often cracking with emotion, the Democrat who represents Uvalde said no single person or entity was fully to blame for the massacre. But, Gutierrez said, Republican Gov. Greg Abbot should accept some of the responsibility for failures in the police response. "There was error at every level, including the legislative level. Greg Abbott has plenty of blame in all of this," Gutierrez said. Earlier this week, Abbott ordered the state to conduct in-person school district security audits and asked top lawmakers to convene a legislative committee to make recommendations on school and firearm safety, mental health, and other issues. The next Texas legislative session is scheduled for January 2023. Gutierrez is among lawmakers who have urged Abbott, who is running for reelection, to call a special session in response to the shooting.

Gutierrez said it's unclear whether information from the 911 calls was being shared with law enforcement officers from multiple agencies on the scene. "Uvalde PD was the one receiving the 911 calls for 45 minutes while officers were sitting in a hallway, while 19 officers were sitting in a hallway for 45 minutes," Gutierrez said. He said the Commission on State Emergency Communications told him the school district police chief did not know about the calls. "He’s the incident commander. He did not receive (the) 911 calls," Gutierrez said. Arredondo has not responded to interview requests from the AP since the attack.

(Read more Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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