State Senator Roland Gutierrez says he thinks Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo is just a scapegoat for systemic failures that resulted in the mass school shooting that left 21 people dead.
“Pete Arredondo was placed out there as the scapegoat, for sure, for a tremendous amount of failure that happened at every possible level,” Gutierrez said in a July 4 interview with CNN.
Gutierrez said Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw was quick to point the finger at Arredondo when there were more troopers on the scene than district police officers.
“I don’t know Peter Arredondo. Don’t need to know him; don’t want to know him,” Gutierrez said. “But at the end of the day, we had so many DPS troopers on scene —12 of the 19 that were in that hallway, twelve were DPS troopers. What are the systemic failures?”
Gutierrez said he was glad Arredondo resigned from his City Council seat saying it was what his constituents wanted to happen.
“I think that this will begin to at least begin that part of the healing process with regard to this gentleman. But I think that we also need to (not) forget that accountability doesn’t just lie with him,” he said.
Gutierrez said there needs to be transparency in the investigation because he doesn’t believe fault for the botched response to the May 24 shooting lies solely with Arredondo.
“It lies with Operation Lonestar, the 91 troopers that were on scene and the eight other agencies that were in that hallway,” he said.
Gutierrez called it possibly the worst mass shooting, not in terms of most people killed, but due to the response from law enforcement.
“It’s probably the longest in having to wait for law enforcement to go in,” he said. “We don’t know how many children possibly bled out, but the systemic failures and the human error here were abound.”
Gutierrez is suing DPS for access to records related to the massacre at Robb Elementary School, saying he wants to see the facts for himself because he wouldn’t trust another “sugarcoated presentation” from DPS.
“If it’s anything like the Senate presentation by DPS, I cannot believe that I would trust that finding,” Gutierrez said.
The state senator said he believes Governor Greg Abbott shared inaccurate information during his initial press conference because he had a narrative that he wanted to put forward.
“And that narrative was this hero’s narrative and how the Texas Department of Public Safety (and) his own Operation Lone Task Force went in and saved the day. That isn’t what happened,” Gutierrez told CNN. “His own task force was part of the systemic failures that happened and the management failures.
“We have not even begun to scratch at the levels of accountability that we need to have here. And it starts at the very top in Texas. People need to continue to ask and demand for change and demand accountability,” he said.
Gutierrez also had tough criticism for Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee for her lack of transparency.
“And she, the district attorney, was the first to come out and yell ‘stop’ to everybody and tell people they were ordered not to communicate,” Gutierrez said. “She continues to tell the mayor that he cannot talk to the media. She continues to tell city officials that if they talk to the media, they will be committing a crime and they potentially could get themselves indicted. That, to me, is just a travesty. And if we don’t have transparency in government, then we don’t have democracy.”