Uvalde CISD police Chief Pete Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave. Photo by Evan L’Roy for The Texas Tribune.
By WILLIAM MELHADO, The Texas Tribune
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete
Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave amid criticism of his
response to the
worst school shooting in Texas history.
Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell announced the move in a news
release Wednesday, one day after Department of Public Safety Director
Steve McCraw placed much of the blame of the delayed response to the
shooting at Arredondo’s feet. Harrell’s decision also comes as multiple
agencies investigate the police response, which has drawn fierce criticism
because law enforcement waited more than an hour to confront the shooter.
It was the latest development in a cascade of conflicting information and changing stories about law enforcement’s response to the
18-year-old who gunned down 19 children and two teachers at Robb
Anne Marie Espinoza, director of communications and marketing for the
school district, would not confirm if the leave was paid or unpaid.
An attorney for Arredondo could not immediately be reached for comment
Arredondo was among one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene
of the shooting perpetrated by a former Uvalde CISD student.
Multiple law enforcement officials and experts have criticized the
response, saying officers should have engaged the shooter much quicker —
even if it put police lives at risk. McCraw told lawmakers Tuesday
that police could have stopped the shooter three minutes after arriving were it not for the indecisiveness of the on-scene commander, who
“decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
State officials have said Arredondo was the incident commander at the
scene, something the school’s police chief has disputed.
In an exclusive interview with The Texas Tribune earlier this month, Arredondo defended his
actions. He said he did not consider himself in charge of the scene and
that the doors separating the police from the shooter were locked and
impossible to break in.
Law enforcement records reviewed by the Tribune cast doubt on that version of events, however. The records indicate
that Arredondo gave orders at the scene. And there’s no video evidence
that Arredondo attempted to open the classroom doors.
According to footage viewed by the Tribune, the shooter went inside a
classroom without appearing to encounter a locked door.
Arredondo testified before lawmakers during a closed-door Texas House
committee hearing Tuesday.
The Uvalde City Council met for a special meeting Tuesday evening and heard from despondent relatives and residents, calling
for accountability from city leaders who they see as supportive of
Though he is a recently elected council member, Arredondo was not present
at the meeting. Relatives of the victims asked that the City Council not
approve Arredondo’s requested leave of absence from council meetings.
City leaders unanimously denied the leave of absence, which will result in
Arredondo losing his District 3 seat if he misses three consecutive
According to Wednesday’s news release, Lieutenant Mike Hernandez, the
second-in-command of the UCISD Police Department, will assume Arredondo’s
In the announcement, Harrell noted that he has said the school district
“would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel
decisions,” but proceeded to place Arredondo on leave given the
uncertainty of when the investigation will be complete.
In a news release on Tuesday,
Mayor Don McLaughlin
said the Uvalde district attorney requested that the city not release any
information regarding their investigation, yet in a statement following
the City Council’s meeting he said he would begin releasing information to
the public as he received it.
McLaughlin also criticized DPS for selectively releasing information about
the police response to paint local police in a bad light.
A representative from DPS could not immediately be reached for comment
was originally published in The Texas Tribune
on June 22, 2022. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media
organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public
policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.
The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.