Uvalde school police chief on leave criticized as behavior during mass shooting

The Uvalde school district police chief was sent on leave on Wednesday after allegations that he made a mistake in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 students and two teachers.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said he has put Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave because the facts of what happened remain unclear.

In a statement, Harrell did not elaborate on Arredondo’s actions as the site commander during the attack, but said he did not know when details of multiple investigations into law enforcement’s response to the killings would be revealed.

“From the outset of this horrific event, I said the district would wait for the investigation to be completed before making any personnel decisions,” Harrell said. “Due to the uncertainty that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave as of this date.”

‘Abject failure’

Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Arredondo — the on-site commander — made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24, and police response an “abject failure.”

Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, enough armed law enforcement officers were on the scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified.

Still, officers waited more than an hour in a school hallway while the gunman carried out the massacre. The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there is no evidence that officers attempted to open the door while the gunman was inside, McCraw said.

McCraw has said parents begged the police outside the school to come in and students in the classroom repeatedly begged 911 operators for help as more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway. Agents from other agencies urged Arredondo to let them move in because children were at risk.

“The only thing that kept a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-site commander who decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw said.

A spokesman for the Uvalde school district, Anne Marie Espinoza, declined to say whether Arredondo would continue to be paid during his leave.

Another officer will take over from the controversial chief, Harrell said.

Jessie Rodriguez, father of the shooting incident Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, holds a photo of her as she protests for Arredondo’s eviction on June 11. (Lisa Krantz/Reuters)

Leave a Comment