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Uvalde school police chief denies claim he’s not cooperating with probe

Conflicting reports from the Texas DPS and Chief Pete Arredondo has added to ongoing confusion in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting

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NBC News, Twitter

By Suzie Ziegler

UVALDE, Texas — It’s been just over one week since an 18-year-old man fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Since then, authorities have worked to make sense of the tragic confluence of events that preceded the massacre. It hasn’t helped matters that the investigation has been plagued by conflicting statements and shifting reports from state officials and law enforcement leaders.

The latest communication dispute centers on Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district’s police force. On Wednesday, Arredondo denied an ABC News report’s claims that he isn’t cooperating with the shooting investigation, according to the Associated Press.

“I’ve been on the phone with them every day,” Arredondo said in a CNN interview.

On Tuesday, ABC News reported that the Uvalde Police Department (UPD) and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) police force were no longer cooperating with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s probe and the state’s review of law enforcement’s response to the shooting, sources said. In response to the ABC News report, Texas DPS clarified that UPD and UCISD are cooperating, but Arredondo is not.

“The chief of the Uvalde CISD Police provided an initial interview but has not responded to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers that was made two days ago,” Texas DPS said in the statement obtained by ABC News.

Texas’ largest police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, has since urged its members to “cooperate fully” with the investigation, The Texas Tribune reported on Tuesday. The union also criticized how public communication has been handled in the shooting aftermath, saying, “a great deal of false and misleading information” has come “from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement.”

According to ABC News, sources say the cooperation issues began after DPS leader Col. Steven McCraw said police made the “wrong decision” in delaying entry to the school to kill the gunman.

McCraw made the comments at a Friday news conference, during which McCraw said Arredondo, the commander on scene, decided to wait for a tactical team because Arredondo believed officers were dealing with a barricaded suspect who no longer threatened students.

McCraw said law enforcement later learned there were still children alive inside the classroom, meaning officers should have treated the incident as an active shooter situation and entered immediately. A timeline of the shooting reveals that law enforcement waited over an hour to enter the classroom and kill the shooter.

Arredondo, 50, has since faced scrutiny for his decision to wait. The 30-year law enforcement veteran has deep roots in Uvalde, having grown up in the small town. Arredondo was recently elected to the Uvalde City Council and was sworn-in during a private ceremony on Tuesday, KERA reported. The ceremony was originally meant to be public, but the venue was changed “out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days,” Mayor Don McLaughlin said in a statement.

The Uvalde shooting on May 24 remains under investigation.