Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on leave Wednesday, nearly a month after his department botched the response to the Robb Elementary School shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Arredondo was excused of his duties by Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell after it was found that cops under his command waited 77 minutes to confront gunman Salvador Ramos on May 24.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell wrote in a press release.
“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 this date.”
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety testified Tuesday that Arredondo’s response was an “abject failure” and said the chief put the lives of cops “before the lives of children.”
“Mistakes were made and it should have never happened that way and we can’t allow that to ever happen … this set our profession back a decade,” DPS Director Steve McCraw told state senators.
Ramos had entered an unlocked door and gained access to two adjoining classrooms where he murdered fourth graders for well over an hour. Arredondo and his officers did not even attempt to enter the rooms until a tactical team arrived 77 minutes after the violence began, security footage showed.
McCraw told lawmakers that the nine officers that were present three minutes after the shooting began had enough strength in numbers to “isolate, distract and neutralize the subject.”
“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” McCraw testified.
Investigators said Arredondo mistakenly treated the shooting as a barricaded suspect incident instead of an active shooter situation, where the top priority is for cops to confront the suspect to stop the violence.
Ramos was eventually killed by police.
UCISD Lieutenant Mike Hernandez was slated to temporarily assume Arredondo’s duties, Harrell said.