UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The Uvalde school district police chief has resigned from his post on the city council just weeks after he was sworn in over allegations he made a mistake in his response to the Robb Elementary School mass shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead†
Chief Pete Arredondo told de Uvalde Leader-News on Friday that he has decided to resign in the interest of the city government. He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and was sworn in — in a closed-door ceremony — on May 31, just a week after the massacre.
“After much 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 officials must continue without distraction. † I think this is the best decision for Uvalde,” said Arredondo.
Arredondo, who has been administrative leave from his school district since June 22, has rejected repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press. His attorney, George Hyde, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment on Saturday.
On June 21, the city council voted unanimously to deny Arredondo leave to appear at public meetings. Relatives of the shooting had begged city leaders to fire him.
Representatives of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Arredondo – the commander on the ground – made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24, and that the police response was an “abject failure”.
Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, enough armed police were on the scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified. Still, police officers armed with guns waited in the hallway of a school for over an hour as the gunman carried out the massacre. The door of the classroom couldn’t be locked from the inside, but there’s no evidence that officers attempted to open the door while the gunman was inside, McCraw said.
McCraw said: parents begged the police outside the school to move in and students in the classroom repeatedly begged 911 operators for help while more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway. Agents from other agencies urged Arredondo to let them move in because children were at risk.
“The only thing that kept a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-site commander who decided to put officers’ lives over children’s lives,” McCraw said.
Arredondo has tried to defend his actions, tell 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 law enforcement. He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios with him, but he used his cellphone to summon tactical gear, a sniper, and the keys to the classroom.
It’s still not clear why it took so long that the police enter the classroom, how they communicated with each other during the attack, and what their body cameras show.
Officials have declined to release more details, citing the investigation.
Arredon, 50, grew up in Uvalde and spent much of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city.