The school district police chief who delayed launching an assault on a mass shooter who massacred 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, has been placed on administrative leave, the district superintendent announced Wednesday. school.
Chief Pete Arredondo was in charge of law enforcement response in Uvalde on May 24 and will be replaced by Lt. Mike Hernandez, Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement.
The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday called the response “an abject failure” for failing to intervene immediately while the shooter was still locked in the classroom where children were killed.
Police practice is generally to immediately confront a school shooter, even if it puts the officers’ lives in danger.
Arredondo defended his actions in an interview with the Texas Tribune published June 9, saying his main concern was to save the lives of as many teachers and students as possible. But he said officers on the scene did not find a key to unlock the classroom door until 77 minutes after the massacre began.
However, Public Safety Chief Steven McCraw told a Texas Senate hearing on Tuesday that the door was unlocked and there was no evidence that officers were trying to see if it was secure while others were looking for a key.
Arredondo, who was elected to the Uvalde city council shortly before the shooting, is also at risk of losing his seat on the council. He asked for time off and missed Tuesday night’s city council meeting, when the rest of the city council denied him time off on Tuesday.
If he misses three consecutive meetings, the board can revoke him, as some members of the public demanded at Tuesday night’s meeting.