Uvalde School District sends Police Chief Pete Arredondo on leave

Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday as police chief of the school district of Uvalde, Texas, after a month of sharp criticism for his decision to delay shooting the gunman. 19 children and two teachersThe district superintendent said.

Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said in a written statement Wednesday that he said the district would wait for personnel to decide on the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School.

“Today, I am still without details of the investigations being carried out by various agencies,” he said. “Due to the lack of clarity and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigation, I have decided to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave, effective at this date.”

No further information was released about Arredondo or the decision. Lieutenant Mike Hernandez will take over the duties of the major, Harrell said.

A lawyer for Arredondo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State officials describe Arredondo as the incident commander during the massacre. Arredondo has said that he did not consider himself the officer in charge.

Authorities have said that Arredondo unfairly treated the gunman as a barricaded suspect rather than an active shooter. After more than an hour, federal agent entered the room and shot the 18-year-old gunman.

federal and state agencies are investigating Law enforcement response.

on Tuesday, Director of Texas Department of Public Security, Colonel Steve McCraw, The state Senate committee hearing described the law enforcement response as a “gross failure.”

McCraw explained minute by minute how the police could have entered the open room where the shooter was. In the early days after the shooting, it was widely reported that police had been barred from entering classrooms and were searching for keys as the doors were closed.

McCraw said the lives of police officers were given more importance than those of the children killed.

“The only thing clogging the dedicated officers’ hallways from Rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” he said. “The officers have weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none. The officers had taken training. There was no subject. ,

Law enforcement officers and at least one ballistic shield were at the school about 19 minutes after the gunman entered classrooms, according to an estimated timeline the Department of Public Security released Tuesday.

According to McCraw and the timeline, an hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds passed by the time police entered the building until the gunman was killed.

Arredondo, who has mostly kept a low profile and avoided questions from the media, told Texas Tribune This month the authorities “did not hesitate for a moment to put themselves at risk.”

Arredondo, who took over as police chief for the school district in 2020, also told The Tribune that he considers himself a front-line responder – not a person managing the wider response.

“I didn’t issue any orders,” he told The Tribune. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”

According to The Tribune, once Arredondo determined he could not enter orbit with the gunman, he dialed a police dispatch from his cellphone and asked for a tactical unit, snipers and an evacuation device to open the door.

“It’s not like anyone said stand up,” Arredondo’s lawyer, George Hyde, told The Tribune. “It was, ‘Right now, until we get the equipment, we can’t go in. So we’re going to do what we can to save lives.’ And what was that? It was to get the students and the parents and the teachers out of the rooms.”

Arredondo was elected to Uvalde City Council on 7 May and was sworn in during a private ceremony on 31 May, a week after the shooting. Council meeting was to be held that day, but that was canceled in light of tragedy, When a week later, on 7 June, the Council reconvened for a special emergency meeting, he was a no-show,

Arredondo also did not attend a meeting on Tuesday night, at which the council unanimously declined to accede to his request for a leave of absence from future council meetings.

According to the City Charter, if a member misses three consecutive meetings without first obtaining a leave of absence, the council may declare the member’s seat vacant. Tuesday’s meeting will be the first of three absences, Mayor Don McLaughlin said.

stello team, David K.Li And Phil Halsela contribution,