UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
On Friday, Chief Pete Arredondo informed the Uvalde Leader News that he has made the decision to step down in the best interests of the city’s administration. He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and was sworn in — in a closed-door ceremony — on May 31, just a week after the massacre.
“After much consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to step down as a member of the city council for District 3. It is up to the mayor, the council of the city, and staff of the city to keep moving ahead without any distractions. I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde,” Arredondo said.
Arredondo has been away from school since June 22nd, and has repeatedly declined to comment on requests from The Associated Press. George Hyde, his attorney, didn’t immediately reply to email requests seeking comment on Saturday.
Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Arredondo — the on-site commander — made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24 , and that the police response was an “abject failure.”
McCraw stated that sufficient law enforcement officers were present on the scene to arrest the gunman three minutes after Salvador Ramos, 18, entered the school. The gunman killed dozens of students and teachers as he waited for them in school’s hallways. McCraw claimed that although the school’s door couldn’t be locked from inside, there was no evidence officers tried to force the door open while the gunman inside.
McCraw claims that parents begged the police to enter the school, while students in the classroom appealed repeatedly for assistance from 911 operators. Meanwhile, more than 12 officers stood in the hallway waiting. Arredondo was asked by other officers to permit them to move in as the children were in serious danger.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw said.
Arredondo has tried to defend his actions, telling the Texas Tribune that he didn’t consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios but that he used his cellphone to call for tactical gear, a sniper and the classroom keys.
It’s still not clear why it took so long for police to enter the classroom, how they communicated with each other during the attack, and what their body cameras show.
The investigation has prompted officials to withhold further details.
Arredondo (50), was born in Uvalde, and spent most of his almost 30-year-long career as a Uvalde police officer.
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