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JULY 2022. Blues Vol 38 No. 7

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JULY 2022. Blues Vol 38 No. 7.1 FEATURES 38 COVER STORY - Diamond DA62-MPP 50 INSERT: APSCON Convention - Reno 66 12 Innovative Police Technologies 76 Sheriff’s Association of Texas Conference - Ft. Worth 84 Visit Galveston Island this Summer DEPARTMENTS 6 Publisher’s Thoughts 8 Editor’s Thoughts 10 Guest Commentary 14 News Around the US 34 Breaking News 90 Remembering Our Fallen Heroes 110 War Stories 114 Aftermath 118 Open Road 120 Healing Our Heroes 122 Daryl’s Deliberations 124 HPOU - From the President, Douglas Griffith 126 Light Bulb Award 128 Running 4 Heroes 130 Blue Mental Health with Dr. Tina Jaeckle 132 Off Duty 136 Ads Back in the Day 140 Parting Shots 142 Buyers Guide 160 Now Hiring - L.E.O. Positions Open in Texas 198 Back Page

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ing information about who was in charge, who confronted the shooter and when. A debate over whether the locked classroom doors could be breached gave way to the discovery that they may never have been locked at all. Revelations have trickled out in the press: The New York Times has described officers’ doubts about the decision to wait; breakdowns in communications and tactics; and the fact that officers held off from the confrontation even though they knew people were injured, and possibly dying, inside. The San Antonio Express-News reported that there is no evidence that officers tried the doors on rooms 111 and 112 — contradicting a key assertion by the Uvalde schools police chief, Pete Arredondo, who told The Texas Tribune that officers tried the doors, found them locked and had to wait for a master key to unlock them. On Monday evening, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV revealed that the officers, in effect, had more than enough firepower, equipment and motivation to breach the classrooms. Meanwhile, at least three investigations — by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Texas Legislature, and the local district attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee — are reviewing records and interviewing witnesses to evaluate the law enforcement response. Public understanding of the response to the tragedy has been marred by refusals by state and local agencies to release public records, efforts by local officials to bar journalists from public meetings, and the closeddoor nature of the hearings held by state lawmakers. The secrecy has already prompted Texas Monthly to ask, “Will We Ever Know the Truth About Uvalde?” For this article, the Tribune reviewed a timeline of events compiled by law enforcement, plus surveillance footage and transcripts of radio traffic and phone calls from the day of the shooting. The details were confirmed by a senior official at the Department of Public Safety. The investigation is still in the early stages, and the understanding of what happened could still change as video records are synched and enhanced. But current records and footage show a wellequipped group of local officers entered the school almost immediately that day and then pulled back once the shooter began firing from inside the classroom. Then they waited for more than an hour to reengage. “They had the tools,” said Terry Nichols, a former Seguin police chief and active-shooter expert. “Tactically, there’s lots of different ways you could tackle this. … But it takes someone in charge, in front, making and executing decisions, and that simply did not happen.” HERE ARE SOME KEY FIND- INGS FROM THESE RECORDS AND MATERIALS: • No security footage from inside the school showed police officers attempting to open the doors to classrooms 111 and 112, which were connected by an adjoining door. Arredondo told the Tribune that he tried to open one door and another group of officers tried to open another, but that the door was reinforced and impenetrable. Those attempts were not caught in the footage reviewed by the Tribune. Some law enforcement officials are skeptical that the doors were ever locked. • Within the first minutes of the law enforcement response, an officer said the Halligan (a firefighting tool that is also sometimes spelled hooligan) was on site. It wasn’t brought into the school until an hour after the first officers entered the building. Authorities didn’t use it and instead waited for keys. • Officers had access to four ballistic shields inside the school during the standoff with the gunman, according to a law enforcement transcript. The first arrived 58 minutes before officers stormed the classrooms. The last arrived 30 minutes before. • Multiple Department of Public Safety officers — up to eight, at one point — entered the building at various times while the shooter was holed up. Many quickly left to pursue other duties, including evacuating children, after seeing the number of officers already there. At least one of the officers expressed confusion and frustration about why the officers weren’t breaching the classroom but was told that no order to do so had been given. • At least some officers on the scene seemed to believe that Arredondo was in charge inside the school, and at times Arredondo seemed to be issuing orders such as directing officers to evacuate students from other classrooms. That contradicts Arredondo’s assertion that he did not believe he was running the law enforcement response. Arredondo’s lawyer, George E. Hyde, said the chief will not elaborate on his interview with the Tribune, given the ongoing investigation. WHAT THE CAMERA SAW Most of the video from inside the school is captured by a wide-angle camera positioned inside the school building’s northwest entrance, the same one the gunman used. The camera looks straight south from its north ceiling perch and offers a slight view of the entrances to classrooms 111 and 112 to the left. The Tribune also reviewed transcripts of radio traffic and body camera footage. They show that the gunman arrived on campus at 11:28 a.m. He appears to have been planning a shooting for a while. In October, according to the law enforcement timeline, he withdrew from Uvalde High School. A month later, when he was still 17, he purchased some gun accessories online, including rifle slings and a military carrier vest. He began buying his ammunition in April and purchased his gun on his 18th birthday in May. On May 14, he posted an ominous message on Instagram: “10 more days.” At 11:33 a.m. on May 24, he walked into Robb Elementary’s northwest entrance and headed south toward the two classrooms on the left side, randomly firing shots from his rifle in the hallway. He had crashed his car and fired some shots outside, so the school was already on lockdown at that point and the hallways were nearly empty. No one was hit, but a boy could be seen peeking around the corner at the northeast end of the hallway, apparently trying to return to class from a nearby bathroom. The boy heard the gunfire and ran away. (DPS confirmed that he escaped without physical injury.) Within a minute, the shooter entered classroom 111 — he didn’t appear to encounter a locked door in the footage — and began shooting. He briefly walked out the classroom door and then went back in, shooting some more. For the next three minutes, he fired frequently inside a classroom filled with children. During that burst of gunfire, the first three officers entered the school: two from the Uvalde Police Department and one from the school district’s force. All were carrying handguns. Moments later, Arredondo and seven more officers arrived. The shooter opened fire at the first three officers closest to the two classrooms, grazing two and forcing all the officers to bolt to either end of the hallway. Those officers, including Arredondo, remained in these positions for the rest of the standoff, never firing a shot. Officers believed that the shooter was contained, and Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department’s dispatch on his cellphone. (The school police unit was created four years ago and does not report to the city police.) Seven minutes had passed since the shooter first entered the building. “Hey, hey, it’s Arredondo. It’s Arredondo. Can you hear me?” said the 50-year-old veteran of law enforcement, who leads a department of six. “No, I have to tell you where we’re at. It’s an emergency right now. I’m inside the building.” By the time Arredondo called dispatch, at least 11 officers had entered the school and at least two are seen in the video carrying rifles. But Arredondo told the dispatcher that he didn’t have the firepower to confront the lone gunman, according to a transcript reviewed by The Texas Tribune. “OK, we have him in the room,” he said, speaking on his cellphone. “He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot. He’s in the room. He hasn’t come out yet. We’re surrounded, but I don’t have a radio.” After the dispatcher confirmed the location of a SWAT team, Arredondo continued. “Yes, and they need to be outside of this building prepared,” he said. “Because we don’t have enough firepower right now. It’s all pistol and he have an AR-15. If you can get the SWAT team set up, by the funeral home, OK, we need — yes, I need some more firepower in here because we all have pistols and this guy’s got a rifle. So, I don’t have a radio. I don’t have a radio. If somebody can come in —” The dispatcher asked Arredondo to stay on the line as long as he could. Arredondo agreed but said he’d drop his phone when the gunman “comes out that door.” Then the dispatcher shared the location of the shooter over a police radio and requested that a SWAT team be amassed by a funeral home across the street. “So, so I need you to bring a radio for me, and give me my radio for me,” Arredondo said. “I need to get one rifle. Hold on. I’m trying to set him. I’m trying to set him up.” Then the call ended. Shooting started again inside the school within a minute of the start of the call. But police wouldn’t breach the classroom where the gunman was barricaded for another hour and 10 minutes. AN AGONIZING WAIT One minute after Arredondo’s 18 The BLUES The BLUES 19

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