CNN Crime and Justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz confronted Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo over law enforcement’s delayed response to the mass shooting inside Robb Elementary School in Texas.
Prokupecz demanded answers Wednesday regarding law enforcement’s decision to wait for specialized equipment before breaching the adjoining fourth-grade classrooms barricaded by alleged gunman Salvador Ramos. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) director Steven McCraw told reporters Friday that officers entered the building at 11:35 a.m., just two minutes after Ramos, but did not engage with the gunman until around 12:50 p.m.
“I just want your reaction to Director McCraw saying that you’re responsible for the decision to go into that room,” Prokupecz said. “How do you explain yourself to the parents?”
“We’re gonna do that eventually obviously,” Arredondo replied.
“When?” the reporter pressed.
“And whenever this is done and the families quit grieving, then we’ll do that obviously,” he said. (RELATED: ‘You Should Be Able To Answer’: CNN Reporter Spars With Texas Police Official At Presser)
“Do you understand how the families feel?” Prokupecz interjected.
The police chief said his department has been “in contact” with DPS everyday about the shooting.
“They say you’re not cooperating,” Prokupecz said. “So just take 2 seconds, what is your reaction? What is your reaction, sir?”
“We’ve been talking to them everyday. Have a good day,” Arredondo said as he entered inside a building.
Uvalde residents have expressed anger with Arredondo after the reports came out about the delayed response and the repeated 911 calls made by children as officers waited outside the classroom. Authorities received the first call at 12:03, where the student told the emergency line she was in room 112, The New York Times reported. Another call reportedly came in at 12:16 p.m. with a student saying that eight or nine students were still alive. A student told 911 to “please send the police now” at 12:43 and 12:47, according to The NYT.
Propkupecz said he has asked Arredondo several times to answer for his department’s handling of the incident but that he was “clearly dodging” the questions and claiming cooperation.
“We gave him ample opportunity, several times asking him to address the accusations from the DPS about his involvement, about his decision-making, but he chose to dodge those questions, and as you can see, going inside his office, people came out to get him inside,” Prokupecz told CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Scuitto. “There’s still a lot of questions that he needs to answer, as well as law enforcement in general, here.”
McCraw told reporters Friday that the delayed entry was the “wrong decision” and that he was unsure of the number of children that could have been saved if law enforcement conducted an immediate breach.
“With a bit of a hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, period,” McCraw said. “There is no excuse for that.”