Texas school shooting: Uvalde school district police chief put on administrative leave

UVALDE, Texas — Peter Arredondo, the police chief for the Texas school district where a mass shooter killed 19 students and two teachers last month, was placed on administrative leave by the Uvalde school superintendent amid criticism of police response at Robb Elementary School.

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Dr. Hal Harrell, superintendent of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, made the announcement Wednesday evening, WOAI-TV reported. Lt. Mike Hernandez will take over Arredondo’s duties, according to the television station.

The move was announced a day after Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw criticized the police response to the May 24 shooting, saying Arredondo “decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell said in a statement. “Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies. Because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective on this date.”

Harrell added that “no further information” would be disclosed about the personnel move.

The decision came a day after the Uvalde City Council unanimously denied a leave of absence to Arredondo, who is now a council member, KHOU-TV reported.

Arredondo testified Tuesday in a closed session to a Texas House committee seeking answers to what happened during the mass shooting at the elementary school, CNN reported. He has not spoken publicly about his decisions on the day of the shooting, according to the news outlet.

During a Texas Senate hearing, McCraw testified that Arredondo made “terrible decisions” as the on-site commander at the school on the day of the shooting, The Associated Press reported. McCraw added that the police response was “an abject failure.”

Three minutes after Salvador Ramos, 18, entered the school, sufficient armed law enforcement personnel were on the scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified. Yet police officers armed with rifles waited in a school hallway for more than an hour, the AP reported.

Arredondo was sworn in as a councilman in a private ceremony the week after the shooting, KSAT-TV reported. He skipped the first city council meeting earlier this month, according to the television station.

He faces the possibility of his City Council seat being vacated if he misses the next two meetings, KENS-TV reported.

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