‘Active shooter’ message sent to parents further muddles law enforcement timeline of Uvalde school massacre

Message sent during law enforcement response called situation an ‘active shooter’ incident, even though chief had labeled it a barricaded subject

UVALDE, Texas – Audio obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders raises new questions about law enforcement’s response to last week’s Uvalde massacre, the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

A phone message received by parents in the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District at 12:20 p.m. the day of shooting indicates that district officials were calling it an active shooter incident.

The 45-second message, previously recorded by the district’s executive director of communications and marketing, acknowledged that an active shooter was at Robb Elementary School and implored parents to stay away from the campus.

A detailed timeline released by Texas Department of Public Safety officials late last week indicates that at 12:20 p.m. law enforcement officers gathered inside the school continued to hang back and not engage the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

That’s despite repeated calls to 911 from people inside the building, including children.

DPS Director Steve McCraw said Friday that the scene’s incident commander, UCISD Police Department Chief Pete Arredondo, had incorrectly believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject.

Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo. (Uvalde CISD)

“Of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period. There was no excuse for that,” said McCraw, when challenged by reporters questioning law enforcement’s timeline of the tragedy.

Officers, according to the timeline, did not breach the classroom and engage with Ramos until a full half-hour after the active shooter message was sent out to parents.

Nineteen children and two teachers died during the massacre, which unfolded over more than 80 minutes.

UCISD officials did not respond to a request to interview Arredondo Tuesday or provide his current status.

District officials have also not provided additional details about what went into Arredondo incorrectly labeling the incident a barricaded subject.

Officials with the city of Uvalde, which was scheduled to swear-in Arredondo during a special council meeting Tuesday evening, postponed the meeting Monday.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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