Bettencourt: Uvalde classroom door unlocked during rampage; law enforcement didn’t try to see if it would open

“Every time we hear more facts it just makes the situation even worse.”

Uvalde, TX – On Monday, the state House committee investigating the response to the mass murders at Robb Elementary will hear testimony from responding law enforcement officers. It is the third day of testimony in Uvalde.

The four officers scheduled to testify are Uvalde police chief Daniel Rodriguez, UPD Sgt. Daniel Coronado, Uvalde CISD officer Adrian Gonzalez, and Department of Public Safety Trooper Joshua Bordovsky.

Testimony is held behind closed doors, meaning victims’ families, Uvalde community members and the media are not allowed to hear what is said.

However, KPRC 2 Investigates has learned more about how police responded, which is described as a “complete breakdown of command control” by one state senator.

The shooting that led to the deaths of 19 children and two teachers took place in two classrooms that were next door to each other.

Investigators found that when police responded, officers did not test the classroom doors to see if they were unlocked, instead waiting to find a master key, according to State Senator Paul Bettencourt, a Republican representing District 7.

“What we’re finding out is apparently there was an unopened door...It’s really a sad reveal we found out about,” said Bettencourt. “Apparently they were using keys on other doors to find the master key.”

Bettencourt said it appeared the shooter was able to gain access through one of the unlocked classroom doors. The door was left untested afterwards by police.

“It’s another sad fact that’s come out of this tragedy that we’ll have to have some serious ‘how to avoid’ in the future,” said Bettencourt.

“Every time we hear more facts, it just makes the situation even worse”

Experts have also been critical of the UCISD police chief about details of the response to the school shooting.

Chief Pete Arredondo stated he left his police and school radios behind when he entered the school, telling the Texas Tribune he wanted his hands to be free during an active shooter situation. Arredondo told the Tribune he didn’t hear that children inside the classroom were calling 911 while officers waited outside.

Arredondo also told the Tribune that he did not consider himself to be the incident commander, but instead was another first responder.

“What’s been totally the complete breakdown of command control from the police force side,” said Bettencourt on Monday. “Why abandon the role as incident commander, why abandon your radios? Clearly, just about the door situation, there wasn’t any clear thinking to make sure both doors were tested.”

KPRC 2 Investigates reviewed Arredondo’s state records and found he had dozens of hours of active shooter training and managing critical incidents in the last three years.

KPRC 2 Investigates will be live with the latest from Uvalde at 4, 5 and 6 p.m.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”