Pete Arredondo—the police chief for the Uvalde, Texas, school district police—has been put on administrative leave a full 28 days after the massacre at Robb Elementary School last month. Arredondo is being held responsible for holding up the police response to the horrific shooting, which left 19 students and 2 teachers dead.
In a press release on Wednesday night, Dr. Hal Harrell, superintendent of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said that while he is “still without details of the investigation,” he chose to put Arredondo on administrative leave. “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 said in the statement.
Lt. Mike Hernandez will take over the tiny department, which has jurisdiction over the district’s schools.
It seemed like only a matter of time before top law enforcement—and frankly low-level cops—who were on the scene started to lose their jobs. On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw called the police response by multiple agencies an “abject failure and antithetical to everything we have learned over the past two decades.”
Arredondo, the on-scene commander as the highest ranking officer present on his jurisdiction, never even tried to open the door to the classroom where the gunman would ultimately murder 21 people. The door—which a teacher had complained was non-functional—was unlocked for all 77 minutes while cops waited outside, and kids cowered in terror. “There’s no way to lock the door from the inside. And there’s no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside,” McCraw told lawmakers.
Arredondo has told Texas Tribune that the doors were impenetrable—but the site also reported that the group of cops waiting outside that classroom door had access to a tool usually used by firefighters to open reinforced doors.
McCraw told lawmakers that the scene commander “waited for a radio, and rifles. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.”