Zavala County sheriff says he ‘never heard anybody say they were in charge’ after arriving at Uvalde school shooting

Salinas said when he and Deputy Chief Ricardo Rios arrived at Robb Elementary School on May 24, he had a portable radio, which broadcast traffic by the Texas Department of Safety. He could not hear radio traffic from the Uvalde Police Department or the Uvalde Schools Police Department.

He said he helped evacuate children from some classrooms and then cleaned up other rooms.

When asked by CNN if there was anyone in charge of the scene, Salinas said, “I never heard anyone say he was in charge.”

Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, the Uvalde school police chief identified by other officials as the incident commander at the scene, recently made his first in-depth public comments in an interview with the Texas Tribune. .

Speaking to the outlet by phone, written responses and in statements provided by his attorney, George E. Hyde, Arredondo said he did not consider himself to be the incident commander and did not order the officers to refrain from entering the premises.

“I gave no orders,” Arredondo told the Tribune, which reported that the chief ordered officers to begin breaking exterior windows of other classrooms and evacuating students. “I called for help and asked for an extraction tool to open the door” of one of the classrooms where the shooting happened, he said.

The police response to the shooting, which left 19 students and two teachers dead, has been heavily criticized in the wake of the tragedy, which is the second deadliest shooting ever at a K-12 school in the States. -United.

Salinas and Rios arrived around noon, about 30 minutes after the first 911 call reported a man shooting outside the school. They found a chaotic scene on the southeast side of the building despite authorities having established a perimeter around the school.

The sheriff said someone he thinks is an off-duty Border Patrol agent asked him to help rescue kids from four or five classrooms, so he, Rios and another law enforcement officer the order intervened.

After leading the students out, Salinas said he moved closer to the building where the shooter had locked himself in a room. Windows in the building were broken and blinds were hanging down, he added. The sheriff would later learn that Joe Vasquez, one of his deputies who was off duty, was in the building and was part of the improvised team that killed the shooter.

The sheriff said he never heard any shots.

“All I heard was ‘He’s down. He’s down,'” he said.

Parents of Uvalde shooting victims say their child has changed forever

Salinas went inside the school, where the hallway was “foggy and misty”. Many people were on the ground receiving first aid, he said.

A United States Drug Enforcement Administration agent told him they needed help, so he followed the agent and helped check the rooms to make sure there were no other threats and that the injured received help.

Salinas said he particularly remembers a small child receiving CPR while on a stretcher. He does not know if the child survived.

Salinas told CNN he gave statements to the Texas Rangers, the lead agency investigating the shooting, and the FBI. He was not asked to testify before a Texas House committee investigating the events surrounding the shooting or the US Department of Justice, he said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Monday in Uvalde and members of the Uvalde Police Department are expected to testify.

When committee chairman Dustin Burrows was asked by the media if Arredondo would also participate in testimony on Monday, he told reporters, “Not yet.”

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