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Uvalde mayor: Negotiator tried to phone school gunman

Texas School-Shooting
Posted at 6:30 AM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 12:09:26-04

In an interview Wednesday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said that a police negotiator attempted to call the gunman inside Robb Elementary School as the school district’s police chief reportedly believed the massacre evolved into a barricade situation.

In a joint interview with the Washington Post and Telemundo San Antonio, McLaughlin said that when he got on the scene, he was met by someone who identified themselves as a negotiator.

“His main goal was to try to get this person on the phone,” McLaughlin said.

"The moment he went in that classroom, they started calling him. I wasn't there at the initial, but at the moment he went into that classroom, they were trying to get numbers to call him,” the mayor added.

McLaughlin’s comments give some limited insight into the police response to last week’s mass school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Officials have given unclear and contrasting answers as to why it took over an hour for police to engage the gunman.

Standard best practices dictate that officers confront active shooters as soon as possible.

McLaughlin provided limited backing to the officers involved in the delayed response.

"I think the truth will come out, and I think that when you see that we get all the facts out, we will know what happened, as tragic as it is,” he said. “But these families deserve the answers, and we will make sure that they get the answers and it's transparent, and if we made mistakes, we will own those mistakes."

McLaughlin asked the Department of Justice to oversee an investigation into law enforcement's handling of the shooting.

"The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events," DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said. "The review will be conducted with the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing."

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said last week that school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo made the wrong decision for police not to enter the classroom to encounter the gunman

"Of course, it was not the right decision," McCraw said. "It was the wrong decision. Period. There's no excuse for that."

Arredondo disputed reports that he is not cooperating but would not offer any more insight into officers' response.

"We're not going to release anything; we have people in our community being buried, so we're going to be respectful," he said.