Police chief at Uvalde school placed on administrative leave after school shooting

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed embattled police chief Pete Arredondo on indefinite administrative leave on Wednesday. In a press release from Uvalde’s CISD, Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell announces that he has placed Arredondo on administrative leave, despite an earlier statement indicating that he would await a full investigation before making any personnel decisions.

As a reason for his decision, Harrell called the remaining ambiguities and the unknown date when the results of an investigation will be available. He added that the decision is effective immediately. The press release does not specify whether Arredondo’s administrative leave will be paid or unpaid. Harrell did not release any further information about the personnel decision.

UCISD Police Commissioner Arredondo, who heads the six-person police agency, was sharply criticized for his role in the Robb Elementary shooting in May, which killed 19 students and two teachers. Arredondo, one of the first officers to respond to the shooting, was appointed commander on the ground by state officials.

On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw testified during a special committee of the Texas Senate, telling members the law enforcement response to the shooting was “a pathetic failure.” McCraw told committee members that Arredondo, as the on-site commander, was responsible for the delay in law enforcement breaking into the adjacent classrooms, where the school gunner held off first responders for more than an hour.

The gunman 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 finding the keys needed to force open the doors. As reported by Breitbart Texas, authorities say one of the classroom’s doors may not have been locked or even locked due to mechanical problems.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo denied the notion that he was the commander on the ground. Arredondo told the Tribune he believed he was in the role of a first responder and that someone outside the building was in command of the response. According to the Tribune, Arredondo checked one classroom door while another officer checked the second door and reported both were locked.

Arredondo has defended his actions and those of the local law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting, telling the Tribune: “Not a single responding officer has ever hesitated, not even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children.” We reacted to the information we had and had to adapt to everything we encountered. 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 Uvalde students and teachers before we were able to gain access to the shooter and eliminate the threat.”

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Before retiring, he served as Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, overseeing the operations of nine border patrol stations in the Del Rio, Texas sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.

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