The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has placed its police chief, Pete Arredondo, on administrative leave, school district superintendent Dr. Hal Harell announced Wednesday.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harell said, according to a Wednesday news release from the school district.
“Today, I am 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,” Harell said.
For the duration of Arredondo’s administrative leave, Lieutenant Mike Hernandez will serve as the school district’s interim police chief.
“We will continue to seek qualified candidates to join our police department as we prepare for the new school year,” Harell said.
The school district did not provide further details on Arredondo or the action taken against him in the Wednesday news release. “There will be no further information released regarding this personnel matter,” Harell concluded.
UCISD communications director Anne Marie Espinoza did not confirm if Arredondo’s leave was paid or unpaid, the Texas Tribune reported.
Arredondo’s lawyer did not respond to the Texas Tribune’s request for comment.
The police chief received criticism for his handling of the May 24 mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School, which saw the deaths of 19 children and two adults. Arredondo was accused of delaying the police response to the shooter by more than an hour.
“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure, and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the past two decades since the Columbine massacre,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw testified before state law makers Tuesday.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” McCraw said.
However, the officer in charge “decided to place the lives of officers ahead of children” and that resulted in the police confronting the shooter “[o]ne hour, fourteen minutes and eight seconds” late, the DPS director told lawmakers.
Arredondo has denied that he was the commander in charge of the situation; however, state authorities disagree.
In a June 9 interview, Arredondo defended his response to the shooting.
Many individuals “who just don’t know the whole story” were “making their assumptions on what they’re hearing or reading,” Arredondo told the Texas Tribune.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children.”
“We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat,” Arredondo said.
The incident remains under investigation by state and federal authorities.
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