The Uvalde School District Police Chief was furloughed Wednesday following allegations he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 people dead. students and two teachers.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said he put Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave because the facts of what happened remained unclear.
In a statement, Harrell did not address Arredondo’s actions as on-scene commander during the attack, but said he did not know when details of multiple investigations into the response of ISIS forces order to the killings would be revealed.
“From the beginning of this horrific event, I have said that the district will wait until the investigation is complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell said. “Due to the remaining lack of clarity and the unknown timing at which I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective this date.”
Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing on Tuesday that Arredondo – the on-scene commander – had made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded. was taking place on May 24, and that the police response was a “dismal failure”.
Three minutes after Salvador Ramos, 18, entered the school, enough armed law enforcement officers were on the scene to arrest the shooter, McCraw said.
Still, officers waited in a school hallway for more than an hour as the shooter carried out the massacre. The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there was no evidence that officers attempted to open the door while the shooter was inside, McCraw said.
McCraw said parents pleaded with police outside the school to move in and students inside the classroom repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help while that more than a dozen officers were waiting in a hallway. Agents from other agencies urged Arredondo to let them move in because the children were in danger.
“The only thing that kept a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said.
A spokeswoman for the Uvalde school district, Anne Marie Espinoza, declined to say whether Arredondo would continue to be paid while on leave.
Another officer will assume the duties of the embattled leader, Harrell said.