Uvalde Schools Police chief quits council after firing over response critics
The Uvalde School District Police Chief resigned from the city council just weeks after being sworn in.
It comes after allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News on Friday that he had decided to step down for the good of city government.
He was elected to the District 3 council on May 7 and sworn in – in a closed-door ceremony – on May 31, just a week after the massacre.
“After careful consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to resign as a member of the District 3 City Council. The Mayor, City Council and City staff must continue to moving forward without distractions.. I think it’s the best decision for Uvalde,” Mr Arredondo said.
Mr. Arredondo, who has been on administrative leave from his position with the school district since June 22, declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press.
His attorney, George Hyde, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment on Saturday.
On June 21, the city council voted unanimously to deny Mr. Arredondo leave to attend public meetings.
Relatives of the victims had pleaded with city leaders to fire him.
Representatives for Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Mr Arredondo – the on-scene commander – had made “terrible decisions” as the massacre was on May 24, and that the police response was a “dismal failure”.
Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, enough armed law enforcement was on hand to arrest the shooter, McCraw said in evidence.
Yet police armed with rifles stood and waited in a school hallway for more than an hour as the shooter carried out the massacre.
The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there was no evidence that officers attempted to open the door while the shooter was inside, McCraw said.
Mr McCraw said parents pleaded with police outside the school to move in and students inside the classroom repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help while more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway.
Officers from other agencies urged Mr. Arredondo to let them move in because the children were in danger.
“The only thing stopping a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said.
Mr. Arredondo tried to defend his actions, telling the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he assumed that someone else had taken control of the response of the forces of order.
He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios, but used his cell phone to call tactical gear, a sniper and keys to the classroom.
It remains unclear why it took the officers so long to enter the classroom, how they communicated with each other during the attack and what their body cameras show.
Officials declined to release further details, citing the investigation.
Mr Arredondo, 50, grew up in Uvalde and has spent much of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city.