Uvalde school police chief suspended after weeks of anger over sloppy response to shooter

On Tuesday, the top Texas official leading the investigation called the response a “dismal failure.”
At the center of the furor is school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo. On Wednesday, nearly a month after the horrific shooting, he was put on leave.

“From the beginning of this horrific event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making staffing decisions,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement. a statement.

“Today, I still do not have details of the investigations carried out by various bodies. Due to the remaining lack of clarity and the unknown time when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place the Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective that date,” he said.

Arredondo and responding law enforcement have come under heavy criticism for how long officers were stationed in a hallway outside adjacent classrooms 111 and 112 at Robb Elementary, where found an 18-year-old shooter and the victims.
The shooter fired at officers who responded within the first few minutes of the shooting, two of whom received graz wounds, according to an updated schedule from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Yet more than 70 minutes passed before the shooter was shot dead by authorities who stormed the room.
Earlier this month, Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the incident commander and did not order officers to refrain from entering the scene.
Berlinda Irene Arreola, the grandmother of shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza, spoke at a tense city council meeting on Tuesday where Arredondo was not present. The school’s police chief was elected to the council earlier this year and has remained out of public view since the shooting.

“He let us down,” Arreola said of Arredondo to board members. “Don’t make the same mistake he did and don’t fail us too. Go ahead and make it right…please, please, we’re begging you, get this man out of here.” our lives.”

The council then voted unanimously to deny Arredondo leave from future council meetings, and the decision was met with applause from the residents in attendance. According to the city charter, Arredondo could be removed from office if he does not show up for three consecutive city council meetings without an excuse.

Arreola spoke to CNN on Wednesday about the pain of losing 10-year-old Amerie, as well as the subsequent fallout, with preliminary details from inquests indicating more could have been done sooner.

“It’s getting harder and harder every day in terms of her lack, the pain that we feel. But also with the anger that’s unfolding before our eyes,” Arreola told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“We have to speak on behalf of all these children, all these families. We have to put things right, we have to get to the bottom of everything that happened and find out the truth.”

Senate Passes Gun Legislation, But Questions Over Uvalde Shooting Response Add to Families' Pain
Amerie’s stepfather, Angel Garza, was a medical first responder at the scene of the shooting and told CNN on Wednesday he doesn’t understand how police failed to act while she was at the scene. outside the classroom, so close to the victims.

“I just don’t understand how you can hear these kids crying and asking for help, but you’re scared to come in because your commander doesn’t want you to go,” he said.

The parents, including himself, “were right in front” of the school. “I was trying to get in, I was handcuffed,” he said, distraught that the police he confided in “didn’t rescue my daughter or any of the other children.”

Arredondo testified before a closed Texas House committee on Tuesday regarding the day of the shooting and has not commented publicly. CNN has reached out to Arredondo’s attorney for comment.

Lt. Mike Hernandez is assuming the duties of UCISD police chief during Arredondo’s furlough, according to the school district.

The mayor of Uvalde challenges the director of the DPS

While Arredondo has received the lion’s share of public criticism over the police’s handling of the crisis, the mayor of Uvalde was quick to point out on Tuesday that he thinks other law enforcement agencies Law enforcement must also be held accountable and provide updates to city officials.

In pointed remarks at the city council meeting, Mayor Don McLaughlin accused DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw of shirking responsibility for his department and noted that officers from at least eight DPS agencies Law enforcement were inside Robb Elementary during the shooting.

Uvalde mayor denounces state agency investigating school massacre, says elementary building will be demolished

“Colonel McCraw has continued – whether you want to call him – to lie, divulge, mislead or twist information in order to steer his own soldiers and Rangers away from the response. At every briefing he omits the number of his own officers and Rangers who were there that day,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin also denounced leaks from unnamed sources which he said were aimed at shifting blame to the police response from certain agencies and more towards local law enforcement.

“Colonel McCraw has an agenda and it’s not about giving a full report on what happened and giving factual answers about what happened to this community,” the mayor said, adding that he was supposed to receive a daily briefing from the authorities since the following day. filming but none were provided.

McCraw in a Texas Senate hearing on Tuesday accused Arredondo of ordering police to wait for unnecessary equipment and keys to a door that may not have been locked as suspected. .

CNN has contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety for comment.

CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Matthew J. Friedman, Amanda Musa, Eric Levenson, Christina Maxouris, Rosalina Nieves, Andy Rose and Amy Simonson contributed to this report.

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