Pete Arredondo, the beleaguered incident commander whose response—or lack thereof—to the horrible massacre of 19 schoolchildren at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde has drawn much criticism, has finally been placed on administrative leave.
Fox News confirms that the announcement was made on Wednesday by Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell announced.
“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 on this date,” he announced.
It’s a decision that can surprise no one—least of all Arredondo himself. He’s been the object of just about everyone’s wrath, including Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the grieving parents of the slain children.
As details about that terrible day on May 24 have emerged, Arredondo’s actions and decisions have come under greater scrutiny. As investigators have pieced together a timeline of what happened, it’s become clearer that precious time was lost through inaction and indecisiveness on the part of the police chain of command—precious time that, if better spent, may have saved children’s lives.
Arredondo was on scene at Robb Elementary School shortly after the 18-year-old gunman entered the premises, but there was an appalling lapse of 70 minutes before the assembled law enforcement officers finally breached the classroom and took out the shooter. It’s that costly delay that has been inexplicable to so many people, and which McCraw didn’t hesitate to call an “abject failure.”
“Three minutes after the suspect entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject,” McCraw explained to a special Texas Senate committee on Tuesday.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111, and 112, was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Lt. Mike Hernandez, second-in-command at the Uvalde School District Police Department, will now assume the duties of the school police chief, according to Superintendent Harrell’s statement. Harrell also noted that the school district “would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” but it seems likely that Arredondo’s future with the school district isn’t likely to be a long one.
Meanwhile, Arredondo, who is also a newly-elected member of the Uvalde City Council, has failed to appear at recent council meetings to face the music from irate parents. This prompted city leaders to deny his leave of absence; if Arredondo misses three such meetings in a row, he will also be stripped of his District 3 council seat.
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