Uvalde officer and husband of slain teacher detained when he tried to save wife, official says
(Gray News) – A Uvalde police officer married to a teacher who died in the school shooting tried to act but was stopped by other law enforcement officials, said the director of Texas Department of Public Safety.
Director Steven McCraw said in testimony Tuesday to the state Senate that misinformation among the officers was one of many issues in responding to the May 24 shooting. The gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
Officers at the scene were told the subject was contained, and the police chief was in a classroom or office negotiating with the gunman, McCraw said.
Officer Ruben Ruiz of the Uvalde school district police department received a call from his wife, teacher Eva Mireles, telling him she had been shot.
“What happened to him was he tried to move forward into the hallway, he was detained, they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene,” McCraw said.
Delays in law enforcement response have been the focus of the federal, state and local investigation of the massacre and its aftermath.
McCraw told state senators Tuesday that police had enough officers and firepower to stop the gunman just three minutes after he entered the building, yet they did not stop the gunman for more than 70 minutes. McCraw also said officers would have found the door to the classroom where the gunman was holed up unlocked if they had checked it.
He called the law enforcement response an “abject failure.”
“You don’t wait for a SWAT team. You have one officer, that’s enough,” he said.
Questions about the law enforcement response began days after the massacre. McCraw said on May 27 that Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, made “the wrong decision” when he chose not to storm the classroom for more than 70 minutes, even as trapped fourth graders inside two classrooms were desperately calling 911 for help.
Arredondo later said he didn’t consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. Arredondo has declined repeated requests for comment to The Associated Press.
The district superintendent said Wednesday he had put Chief Pete Arredondo on leave.
State police initially said the gunman entered through an exterior door that had been propped open by a teacher. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said on May 31, though, that the teacher closed the door after realizing a shooter was on campus, but it did not lock as it should have.
On June 2, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said it was a “system failure” that Arredondo received no word of the pleas for help from people inside the school because he had no two-way radio link with city police.
“I want to know specifically who was receiving the 911 calls,” Gutierrez said during a news conference.
The Uvalde school board heard from members of the public Monday, including relatives of those killed in the attack. They took turns criticizing the police response and what they described as lax security measures at the school in general.
Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.