Following accusations that he made mistakes in his handling of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which claimed the lives of 19 kids and two teachers, the police chief for the Uvalde school system was placed on leave on Wednesday.
Superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Hal Harrell stated that he placed school police chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave since the circumstances surrounding what occurred are yet unknown. In a statement, Harrell said he was unsure of when specifics of federal, state, and local investigations into the law enforcement reaction to the killings would be made public but did not address Arredondo’s conduct as the attack’s on-site commander.
When this terrible incident first started, Harrell remarked, “I conveyed that the district would wait until the inquiry was finished before making personnel choices.” “I have decided to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective as of this day because to the ongoing lack of clarity and the uncertainty surrounding when I will learn the findings of the investigations,” the statement reads.
Arredondo won’t be paid while on leave, a Uvalde school district official, Anne Marie Espinoza, declined to disclose.
According to Harrell, another officer will take up the chief’s responsibilities.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Col. Steven McCraw testified before the state Senate on Tuesday that Arredondo made “poor judgments” as the slaughter on May 24 progressed and that the police response was a “abject failure.”
According to McCraw’s testimony, there was enough armed law enforcement on the scene three minutes after Salvador Ramos, 18, walked into the school to stop the shooter. While the shooter carried out the carnage, police officers waiting in a school hallway with weapons in hand waited for more than an hour. There is no evidence that cops attempted to enter the classroom door while the shooter was inside, but McCraw noted that the door could not have been locked from the inside.
According to McCraw, as more than a dozen cops waited in a corridor, parents pleaded with police outside the school to enter, and pupils within the classroom repeatedly begged 911 operators for assistance. Children were at danger, officers from other agencies pleaded with Arredondo to grant their request.
The on-scene commander, who chose to put the lives of cops over the lives of children, was the only thing preventing a corridor of committed officers from entering Rooms 111 and 112, McCraw claimed.
The mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, disagreed with McCraw’s statement blaming Arredondo, claiming that the Department of Public Safety had frequently disseminated inaccurate information regarding the incident and downplayed the contribution of its own police.
Even though McLaughlin said there were more state troopers in the school hallway at several times during the massacre than any other law enforcement agency, he labeled Tuesday’s Senate session a “clown show” and claimed he didn’t hear anything from McCraw regarding their role.
Investigations are still underway, and public uproar has focused on the police reaction time delays while the shooting was taking place. Law enforcement has occasionally provided muddled and perhaps contradicting facts and timetables, which has stoked ire and irritation.
On Tuesday, the Uvalde City Council unanimously decided against granting Arredondo, a council member, a leave of absence from attending meetings in public. Family members of the shooting victims had begged with local officials to sack him instead.
Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was shot and killed in the incident, and her grandma Berlinda Arreola pleaded with God to “please, please, get this man out of our life.”
Sen. Paul Bettencourt stated during the state Senate hearing that Arredondo ought to have resigned immediately.
Bettencourt stated that based just on the manner in which he responded, “This individual should have withdrawn himself from the job immediately.”
The Associated Press has asked Arredondo and his attorney for comment on many occasions, but they have rejected. On Wednesday, they again did not immediately react to a question regarding his leave.
In an attempt to justify himself, Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he didn’t see himself as the commander in charge of operations and that he had thought someone else was in charge of the law enforcement response. He said that even though he was without his campus and police radios, he was still able to call for tactical equipment, a sniper, and the classroom keys using his iPhone.
Why it took the cops so long to enter the classroom, how they interacted with one another throughout the attack, and what their body cameras captured are all still mysteries.
In light of the probe, officials have refrained from providing further information.
The majority of Arredondo’s nearly 30-year career in police enforcement took place in Uvalde, where he was raised. He accepted the position of chief of police for the school district in 2020 and was sworn in as a council member on May 31 in a ceremony that was held behind closed doors.