The police chief who officials said decided to wait to confront the gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, completed an active shooter training course in December, according to law enforcement records.
Peter Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, completed an eight-hour “Active Shooter Training Mandate” course on Dec. 17, 2021, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement public records obtained by NBC News.
He completed the same course the previous year, on Aug. 25, 2020, according to the documents.
Arredondo, who has been the chief since 2020, stopped at least 19 officers from rushing in as the 18-year-old shooter opened fire for at least an hour, killing 19 students and two teachers, officials said Friday.
“It was the wrong decision,” Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference Friday.
McCraw said Arredondo believed that the shooter had barricaded himself and that the children were not under an active threat.
The training course explicitly educates participants on how to “compare/contrast an active shooter event and a hostage or barricade crisis.”
Instead of sending officers in, he spent time finding keys that would let him into the school, according to McCraw.
In the midst of the shooting, at least two children called 911, one of whom begged for help; one girl called 911 more than five times, McCraw said.
Federal agents were told by local police to wait and not enter the school — and then decided after about half an hour to ignore that initial guidance and find the shooter, two senior federal law enforcement officials told NBC News on Friday.
Arredondo was not present Friday when McCraw briefed reporters, and McCraw did not identify him by name.
Arredondo’s cell phone voicemail was full when NBC News attempted to contact him Saturday. NBC News sent him a text and also left him a message at his work line. The school district did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, and a phone number for after-hours questions appeared to be disconnected.
A police officer parked outside Arredondo’s home on Saturday said his family was declining interviews with reporters.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement released the curriculum for the training course two years ago, according to information on the website for the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University.
Three representatives for the Texas School Safety Center did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment Saturday, and a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement did not immediately respond to a voicemail message.
The 30-page training course curriculum is divided into six units.
The first unit aims to teach participants about how school shootings in recent decades — including the massacres at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999, and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 — influenced “law enforcement response tactics.”
The second unit lays out “priorities” for responding officers, and states: “First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm’s way and display uncommon acts of courage to save the innocent. First responders must understand and accept the role of ‘Protector’ and be prepared to meet violence with controlled aggression.”
The third unit is titled “Stop the Killing.” The fifth unit is titled “Stop the Dying.”
“Time is the number one enemy during active shooter response,” the curriculum states. “The short duration and high casualty rates produced by these events requires immediate response to reduce the loss of life.”
The records also show that Arredondo completed more generalized “School-Based Law Enforcement” training courses on Nov. 12, 2020, and July 18, 2018.
Arredondo recently won a seat on the Uvalde City Council, and he is scheduled to be sworn onto the council on Tuesday — exactly one week after the Uvalde shooting.
Arredondo’s older brother, Lee, who lives in Uvalde, told an NBC News reporter on Saturday that he feels his sibling has been thrown under the bus. Lee Arredondo said the two have not spoken in a few years, but he feels his brother was a “scapegoat.”
“If they’re going to point the finger at one, they need to point the finger at others, too. He’s just not the only police department. There are a lot of them involved in this,” Lee Arredondo said.
Lee Arredondo said he has two adult daughters and five grandchildren. He added one of his daughters has told him there is a lot of animosity toward his brother.
“There is a lot of hatred towards him — a lot of things being said,” he said.
Tom Winter, Scott Friedman, Antonio Planas and Safia Samee Ali contributed.