Uvalde school police chief placed on administrative leave
The Uvalde school system on Wednesday placed school police chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave following controversy over how he handled the police response to a mass shooting last month that left 19 children and two adults dead.
Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said in a statement the school had originally wanted to wait until an investigation into the incident was completed, but as of Wednesday, he was “still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies.”
“Because of the lack of clarity 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 effective on this date,” Harrell wrote.
The news comes a day after a Texas state Senate committee heard testimony from Steve McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), who laid much of the blame for the mass shooting last month squarely on Arredondo.
McCraw said police officers, who were under the command of Arredondo, had enough firepower and equipment to stop the 18-year-old gunman three minutes after he entered Robb Elementary School on May 24 and opened fire at the children and teachers before police entered the classroom more than an hour later.
He also said the door to the classroom was not locked, contradicting claims from Arredondo, who said they were waiting for a key to get inside the classroom door.
Multiple agencies are probing the incident and the police failure to stop the shooting, including the DPS, the Department of Justice and Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee.
Arredondo testified behind closed doors at another hearing held by the Texas state House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The school police chief has defended his response, telling The Texas Tribune that multiple keys did not work to get inside the classroom where the gunman was firing and that he had called for more tactical gear and firepower.
“The only thing that was important to me at this time was to save as many teachers and children as possible,” he told the outlet.
Still, families of the victims called for Arredondo to be fired in the wake of the tragedy, including Brett Cross, the father of a slain student.
“We were failed by Pete Arredondo. He killed our kids, teachers, parents and city, and by keeping him on your staff, y’all are continuing to fail us,” said Cross to a Nexstar affiliate KXAN.
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