Uvalde school district Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo is now on administrative leave from the system as more information comes to light about last month’s tragedy. Questions continue to pile up over his leadership during the horrific school massacre in Texas.
The move came one day after a Texas Senate hearing Tuesday revealed disturbing allegations of “terrible decisions.” Lawmakers learned shocking new details of the horrific events of May 24 when an 18-year-old shooter murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
In a statement, the school system did not address specifics of the events at the school. Rather, Superintendent Hal Harrell said the facts of what transpired remain unclear. “Because of the lack of clarity that remains,” Harrell said Arredondo was placed on leave.
What is increasingly clear, despite conflicting details and a shifting narrative since the tragedy, is that waiting over an hour to enter the classroom meant more lives lost.
For his part, Arredondo disputed that he was the incident commander and claimed doors to the classrooms were locked and could not be broken into. Investigators say, however, that the doors could not be locked from the inside and no attempts were made to open them until the very end.
In an interview earlier this month, the district police chief said the objective that day was to save as many lives as possible. Investigators, however, believe the delay in entering the classroom was to get protective gear on the scene.
But even that arrived earlier than previously thought, and officers had four ballistic shields a full 30 minutes before the classroom was breached.
In Tuesday’s dramatic testimony, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw laid the lion’s share of blame squarely on Arredondo. In a scathing rebuke, the director said it was decided to “place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
He further told senators that within three minutes of shots being fired in the adjoining classrooms, police should have stopped the shooter.
Arredondo, who was recently elected to the Uvalde City Council, was not present at a special meeting of the body on Tuesday. His request for a leave of absence was unanimously rejected after relatives of victims asked that it not be granted.
This means he will be removed from the council if he misses three consecutive meetings.
The unspeakable tragedy of Robb Elementary School gets progressively worse as details confirm what victims’ families witnessed that day. An already terrible situation appears to have been made even worse by indecision and being overly cautious.