As new details emerge that change the police narrative of what happened during the Robb Elementary School massacre last week, the school district police chief who led the law enforcement response had not responded to investigators for two days, a public safety official said Tuesday.
Uvalde school district police department chief Pete Arredondo, who was sworn in as a newly elected city council member Tuesdaydid an initial interview with the Texas Rangers, which is investigating the shooting, but hasn’t responded for a follow-up interview in two days, said Travis Considine, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, state authorities now say that the teacher who police said left a door propped open minutes before the gunman entered the school and killed 19 children and two teachers had actually closed the door, though it did not lock.
The new development adds to a list of revised accounts from authorities of the May 24 school shooting, including the amount of time before law enforcement officials entered the classrooms where the gunman was shooting and details about officers’ interactions with the gunman.
On Wednesday, more services were scheduled in Uvalde, with funerals planned for Jose Flores Jr., 10, and teacher Irma Garcia, 48. Garcia’s husband, Joe Garcia50, who died suddenly after visiting a memorial site at the school, will also be laid to rest.
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Here’s what we know.
Uvalde school police chief not responding to investigators
Arredondo, the school district police chief in charge of the law enforcement response to the elementary school shooting, has not responded to the Texas Rangers in two days for a follow-up interviewConsidine told the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Tuesday.
“Uvalde and Uvalde (Consolidated Independent School District) departments have been cooperating with investigators,” Considine said. “The chief of the CISD did an initial interview but has not responded to a request for a follow up interview that was made two days ago.”
The Rangers are investigating the law enforcement response to the shootingwhich did not appear to follow standard police procedures for an active shooter.
Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw said Friday that it was “the wrong decision” not to confront the gunman after two officers received grazing wounds following an initial encounter.
McCraw said the incident commander determined that the situation inside Robb Elementary School had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject situation and he believed no more lives were at risk, even as children were calling 911 from inside.
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Teacher closed door the gunman used to enter school, authorities say
The teacher who police said left a door propped open minutes before a gunman entered Robb Elementary School had actually closed the door, though it did not lock, state authorities now say.
State police initially said the teacher, who has not been identified, propped the door open with a rock and did not remove it before the gunman entered.
“We did verify she closed the door. The door did not lock. We know that much and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock,” Considine said Tuesday.
Officials have offered differing accounts of how the May 24 shooting unfolded, including details about officers’ interactions with the gunman and how long it took for law enforcement to enter the classrooms where he was holed up.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott described police rushing toward gunfire to stop the shooter and never mentioned a delay. The governor said Friday his earlier depiction of the law enforcement response came from a briefing from law enforcement officials and others. Abbott did not say who was present at the briefing, but said he was “livid” about being given inaccurate information.
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— Jeanine Santucci
Amerie Jo Garza is the first victim laid to rest
Amerie Jo Garza had a heart of gold. She was also named to the school honor roll. Those who knew her described her as a kind, caring, blunt, loving, sweet, sassy and funny little diva who “hated dresses.”
On Tuesday, family and friends laid her to rest. She was 10 years old.
Amerie was the first victim to be buried, starting several weeks of funerals in the South Texas city overwhelmed by sadness and pain.
From outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, sirens echoed as the funeral procession made its way to the church. Attendees arriving at the church were mostly wearing purple. It was Amerie’s favorite color of hers.
At least two people attending the funeral were wearing green Girl Scout vests. Last week, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas awarded Garza a bronze cross medal, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a Girl Scout. The award is reserved for Girl Scouts who exhibit extraordinary heroism or have risked their life to save another person.
In a heartbreaking interview with CNN, her stepfather, Angel Garza, said that two of her friends had confirmed that during the shooting she had tried to call 911 before she was killed.
— Luz Moreno-Lozano and Niki Griswold, Austin American-Statesman
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism