Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief who oversaw officers’ response to the Uvalde mass shooting, has been placed on administrative leave.
The move follows a review of Mr. Arredondo’s role in the response to the Texas shooting that killed 21 people, the second-worst school shooting in US history.
Officers under the command of Mr. Arredondo, armed with assault rifles and ballistic shields, waited for more than an hour outside a classroom where 19 students and two teachers were killed, before breaking down a door and shoot the shooter Salvador Ramos. He faced growing criticism and calls for his resignation from Uvalde’s parents and beyond.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw testified before the state legislature that the school police chief’s decisions in the shooting were “an abject failure.”
“The only thing keeping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander,” McCraw told the state Senate.
The Independent has contacted Mr. Arredondo for comment.
School officials said they would await the outcome of ongoing state and federal investigations into the police response to the shooting before making a final staffing decision.
“Today, I still do not have details of investigations by various agencies,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement. “Due to the remaining lack of clarity and the unknown timing at which I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective this date.”
Investigations into Uvalde’s police response to the shooting revealed other shortcomings, even though the department had trained for a school shooting just two months before the massacre. Mr. Arredondo initially did not have a radio and asked for one to be brought to him. Officers never tried to open a door in the classroom either, believing it to be locked and instead waiting for a key.
Eventually, more than an hour after Ramos arrived at Robb Elementary School, and a border patrol SWAT team joined the Uvalde officers, a group of officers entered the classroom and shot at the 18-year-old shooter.
Relatives of Uvalde’s victims have called on Mr. Arredondo to resign.
“Having Pete still employed, knowing he’s incapable of making life-saving decisions is terrifying,” Brett Cross, student Uziyah Garcia’s uncle, said at a school board hearing on Monday. “Innocence does not hide, innocence does not change its history, but innocence died on May 24.”
On Tuesday, the town council of Uvalde rejected Mr Arredondo’s request to be absent from future meetings.
The school’s police chief has defended his response to Uvalde’s shooting.
“Not a single responder ever hesitated for even a moment to put themselves in harm’s way to save the children,” he said. told the Texas Tribune. “We responded to the information we had and had to adapt to whatever we were facing. Our goal was to save as many lives as possible, and the extraction of students from classrooms by everyone involved saved over 500 of our students and teachers from Uvalde before we had access to the shooter and eliminated the threatens.