The superintendent for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announced that the embattled police chief Pete Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave. Arredondo has been criticized for his handling of the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 that killed 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers, and the decision to delay police entry into the classrooms where the gunman carried out the attack. Arredondo served as the incident commander on the scene of the shooting.
Dr. Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said in a statement Wednesday that the leave will take effect immediately, and Lt. Mike Hernandez will assume the duties of the Chief of Police. Said Harrell: “From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions. 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.”
During a state Senate hearing Tuesday on school safety, police training and social media in the wake of the shooting, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw read aloud from a transcript of police radio communications, revealing that nearly an hour after the gunman entered the school, an officer told the police chief, “People are going to ask why we’re taking so long.” Arredondo replied, per the transcript, “We’re trying to preserve life.”
Earlier this month, Arredondo said he did not consider himself the commanding officer on the scene on the day of the shooting, and that no one told him about the 911 calls that came in during the 77 minutes before the gunman was taken down. He said: “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.”
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