On Wednesday, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed embattled police chief Pete Arredondo on indefinite administrative leave. In a press release from CISD Uvalde, Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell announced that he had placed Arredondo on administrative leave despite an earlier statement that he would await a full investigation before making personnel decisions.
Harrell cited a remaining lack of clarity and the unknown timing of receiving the results of an investigation as the reason for his decision. He added that the decision is effective immediately. The press release does not specify whether Arredondo’s administrative leave will be paid or not. Harrell has released no further information regarding the staff’s decision.
UCISD Police Chief Arredondo, who leads the six-man police department, has come under heavy criticism for his role in the Robb Elementary shooting in May, which left 19 students and 2 teachers dead. Arredondo, one of the first officers to respond to the shooting, was appointed by state officials as the on-scene commander.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testified before a Texas Senate Special Committee telling members that law enforcement’s response to the shooting was “a dismal failure.” McCraw told committee members that Arredondo, as the on-scene commander, was responsible for law enforcement’s delay in breaching adjacent classrooms where the school gunman held off first responders for more than 10 years. ‘one o’clock.
The shooter was eventually killed by a hastily assembled team of Border Patrol agents and local and state authorities. Arredondo attributed the delay in entering the classroom to a search for the keys needed to open the doors. As Breitbart Texas reports, authorities say one of the classroom doors may not have been locked, or even lockable, due to mechanical issues.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo disputes the idea that he was the on-scene commander. Arredondo told the Tribune that he believed he was playing the role of a first responder and that someone outside the building took command of the response. According to the Tribune, Arredondo checked one classroom door while another officer checked the second door and reported that both were locked.
Arredondo defended his actions and those of the local law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting, telling the Tribune, “Not a single responding officer ever hesitated for even a moment to put themselves in danger to save the children. We reacted to the information we had and had to adapt to whatever we were faced with. 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.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief of Law Enforcement Operations, directing the operations of nine Border Patrol posts in the Del Rio, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.