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John Huber


Opinion: The Uvalde Massacre Response – A Clear Case of Cowardice

Former Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo was recently indicted by a grand jury on 10 counts of felony child endangerment/abandonment for his role in the slow police response during the 2022 Uvalde school massacre. Arredondo was briefly booked into the county jail before being released on bond. Alongside him, former school officer Adrian Gonzales was also indicted on multiple similar charges. These indictments mark the first criminal charges against officers involved in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, where 19 children and two teachers tragically lost their lives.

Arredondo, who served as the on-site commander during the attack, and Gonzales, one of the first officers to enter the building, face significant scrutiny for their actions—or lack thereof. The indictments were kept under seal until the men were in custody, and details regarding the public release of Arredondo’s indictment remain unclear. Investigations revealed that on May 24, 2022, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School, where he remained for over 70 minutes before being confronted and killed by officers. During this time, 376 law enforcement officers were present at the school, with many waiting in the hallway outside the classroom as gunshots were heard inside.

Body camera footage, journalistic investigations, and damning government reports have shown that officers went in and out of the school with weapons drawn but failed to enter the classroom where the shooting was taking place. The hundreds of officers at the scene included state police, Uvalde police, school officers, and U.S. Border Patrol agents. Despite this massive law enforcement presence, the gunman continued.

As an administrator and educator, I have dedicated my career to ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff in our schools. The tragic events at Robb Elementary School have profoundly impacted me, and I believe it is essential to call out what is painfully clear: the failure of law enforcement on that day was a simple case of cowardice. No one supports law enforcement more than I do, but I just cannot support them in this incident.

The assertion by Arredondo and others that there was a “hostage” situation rather than an active shooter is a flimsy excuse, unsupported by any credible evidence. There was no indication of a hostage situation, and the continuous sound of gunfire should have spurred any well-trained officer into immediate action. Yet, we saw hesitation and indecision instead of the decisive actions that the situation demanded.

We have seen other incidents where individuals are being held accountable for their actions in the wake of school shootings. In Oxford, Michigan, the parents of the shooter were charged and sentenced to 10 years in prison. This accountability extended beyond the direct perpetrators, reflecting a broader recognition of responsibility. However, the school decided at the last minute not to charge a counselor and dean of students who had met with the shooter earlier in the day, interviewed and assessed him, and then sent him back to class.

As educators, we understand the responsibility that comes with protecting our students. We drill for emergencies, prepare for the worst, and hope never to face such horrors. Law enforcement officers, especially those assigned to protect our schools, are exceptionally trained and expected to confront danger head-on. This is what they sign up for—to protect and serve, even at great personal risk.

The actions of Arredondo, Gonzales, and others present on that day amount to a dereliction of duty. Their failure to act decisively and courageously contributed to further loss of lives.  As we continue to mourn these tragic losses, we must also hold accountable those whose cowardice exacerbated the tragedy.

It is my hope that the indictments and ongoing investigations bring some measure of justice and closure to the families of the victims. The pain and suffering they endure will never fully subside, but accountability is a necessary step toward healing.

As an educator, hope all school districts and law enforcement agencies learn from this tragedy. We must ensure that our officers are adequately trained, not just in tactics, but in the moral and ethical responsibilities of their roles. We must demand courage and accountability, where the safety of our children is paramount and where hesitation in the face of danger is not tolerated.

In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, let us recommit to the principles of bravery and duty that define true public service. Our children deserve nothing less.

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The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.