When did first Uvalde communication breakdown happen?

UVALDE, Texas (NewsNation) — “Who knew what, and when?” That’s the question members of the Texas House committee investigating the Uvalde school shooting are trying to answer.

Sunday, the committee released the initial findings of their investigation. The scathing 77-page report outlined “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” by law enforcement and the school system, as well as the shooter’s family.

The report criticizes law enforcement’s response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The analysis paints a picture of more than 375 law enforcement officers on a chaotic scene with no clear leadership, accusing some officers of failing to “prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety.”

So, where was the breakdown in communication?

Former CIA officer Tracy Walder combed through the report with her young daughter — who attends a Texas elementary school — sitting next to her.

Walder told NewsNation she believes the communication breakdown began with a question of who the chain of command was at the shooting scene.

“I think the biggest thing that I saw was that it is very, very clear in their active shooter plan that the school had in place, who the chain of command was. Arredondo was right at the top of that, but for some reason, he has said that he wasn’t in charge, and that the person who was first on the scene… to engage the shooter was in charge. So, I think that is probably the first time that the communication breakdown occurred,” Walder said.

In the report, Arredondo reportedly told the committee he treated the shooter as a “barricaded subject” and defended not treating the scene as an active shooter situation because he did not have “visual contact” with the shooter.

“I do not feel that there’s any validity to that statement that he made,” Walder said.

Given the gravity of the situation, Walder believes one of the officers on scene should have gone ahead and breached the classroom while others waited.

According to the report, Walder says: “Lieutenant Martinez actually started taking fire but kept going towards the threat, which is what the Uvalde Police Department was trained to do in their active shooter response training program or alert. He kept going, however, no one followed him. That then ultimately gave him pause because no one followed him. So I do think that someone should have [breached the classroom] because the reality is you do not need a commanding officer’s go ahead to engage a target. You engage a target when you feel that it is necessary to engage that target.”

In response to the report, committee members hope the facts they have put together will allow law enforcement agencies to take a look at each responding officer’s actions May 24 and determine how they want to move forward or hold accountable officers.

This will be taken a step further when police body camera footage from the incident is released, which has been ordered by Mayor Don McLaughlin’s office along with the placement of Uvalde Lt. Mariano Pargas on administrative leave.

Although the report hits the inaction of police hard, committee members maintain the only villain in the tragic situation is the shooter.

Lawmakers made it clear the report is not meant to be comprehensive. There are still witnesses they would like to speak with and additional reports they would like to review in their efforts to form a more complete picture of what happened.


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