Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed embattled Police Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave for an indefinite period on Wednesday. In a press release from the Uvalde CISD, Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell announced he placed Arredondo on administrative leave despite an earlier statement indicating he would wait for a complete investigation before making personnel decisions.
Harrell cited a lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when the results of an investigation will be received as a reason for his decision. He added that the decision is effective immediately. The press release does not specify whether Arredondo’s administrative leave will be paid or unpaid. Harrell released no other information regarding the personnel decision.
UCISD Chief of Police Arredondo, who heads the six-man police department, received harsh criticism for his role in the Robb Elementary Shooting in May that left 19 students and 2 teachers dead. Arredondo, one of the first officers to respond to the shooting, has been named by state officials as the on-scene commander.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testified during a special Texas Senate Committee telling members the law enforcement response to the shooting was “an abject failure.” McCraw told committee members Arredondo, as the on-scene commander, was responsible for the delay in law enforcement breaching the adjoining classrooms where the school shooter held back first responders for more than an hour.
The shooter was ultimately killed by a hastily formed team of Border Patrol agents and local and state authorities. Arredondo attributed the delay in gaining entry to the classroom to a search for keys needed to breach the doors. As reported by Breitbart Texas, authorities say that one of the classroom doors may have not been locked, or even lockable, due to mechanical issues.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo disputes the notion that he was the on-scene commander. Arredondo explained to the Tribune he believed he was in the role of a first responder and that someone on the outside of the building had assumed command of the response. According to the Tribune, Arredondo checked one classroom door as another officer checked the second door and reported both were locked.
Arredondo has defended his actions and those of local law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting telling the Tribune, “Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children. We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat.”
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.