mcloudy.png
Wednesday June 29th, 2022 11:45AM

Uvalde school police chief on leave after mass shooting

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DALLAS (AP) — The Uvalde school district’s police chief was put on leave Wednesday following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said that he put schools police Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave because the facts of what happened remain unclear. In a statement, Harrell did not address Arredondo's actions as on-site commander during the attack but said he didn't know when details of federal, state and local investigations into the law enforcement response to the slayings would be revealed.

“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell said. “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.”

A spokesperson for the Uvalde school district, Anne Marie Espinoza, declined to say whether Arredondo would continue to be paid while on leave.

Another officer will assume the embattled chief’s duties, Harrell said.

Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing on Tuesday that Arredondo 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, sufficient armed law enforcement were on scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified. Yet police officers armed with rifles waited in a school hallway for more than an hour while the gunman carried out the massacre. The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there is no indication officers tried to open the door while the gunman was inside, McCraw said.

McCraw has said parents begged 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 Arredondo to let them move in because children were in danger.

“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,” McCraw said.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin pushed back on McCraw’s testimony casting blame on Arredondo, saying the Department of Public Safety has repeatedly put out false information about the shooting and glossed over the role of its own officers.

McLaughlin called Tuesday's Senate hearing a “clown show” and said he heard nothing from McCraw about state troopers’ involvement, even though McLaughlin said their number in the school hallway at points during the slaughter surpassed that of any other law enforcement agency.

Delays in the police response as the shooting was happening has become the focus of ongoing investigations and public outcry. Law enforcement has at times offered confusing and sometimes contradictory details and timelines that have drawn anger and frustration.

The Uvalde City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously against giving Arredondo — who is a council member — a leave of absence from appearing at public meetings. Relatives of the shooting victims had pleaded with city leaders to instead fire him.

“Please, please, we’re begging you, get this man out of our lives,” said Berlinda Arreola, the grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old who was fatally shot in the attack.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt told the state Senate hearing that Arredondo should have stepped down straight away.

“This man should have removed himself from the job immediately because, just looking at his response, he was incapable of it,” Bettencourt said.

Arredondo and his lawyer have declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press and did not immediately respond to an inquiry Wednesday about his leave.

Arredondo has tried to defend his actions, telling the Texas Tribune that he didn’t consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios but that he used his cellphone to call for tactical gear, a sniper and the classroom keys.

It’s still not clear why it took so long for police to 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.

Arredondo, 50, grew up in Uvalde and spent much of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city. He took the head police job at the school district in 2020 and was sworn in as a member of the City Council in a closed-door ceremony May 31.

___

Find more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson dies at age 26
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson has died at age 26
7:23PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Scheffler, McIlroy highlight strong field at Travelers
This week's Travelers Championship will feature six of the  world’s top 15 ranked players, including No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and No. 2 Rory McIlroy
7:21PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Uvalde school police chief on leave after mass shooting
The Uvalde school district’s police chief has been put on leave following allegations that he erred in his response to a mass shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead
7:19PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Good dog! Westminster dog show gets set to pick a winner
The top dog will soon get crowned at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
6:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden calls for 3-month suspension of gas and diesel taxes
President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease financial pressures
6:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
South Dakota Gov. Noem gets emphatic win with AG's removal
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem got an emphatic victory when the Senate removed Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office by convicting him of impeachment for killing a pedestrian with his car
6:02PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Unlocked doors were 'first line of defense' at Uvalde school
The Uvalde massacre began after the 18-year-old gunman entered the school through a door that could only be locked from the outside and then got inside a classroom that had a busted lock
4:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
Sri Lankan prime minister: Island's economy 'has collapsed'
Sri Lanka’s debt-laden economy has “collapsed” after months of shortages of food, fuel and electricity
4:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
Jan. 6 hearings: What we’ve learned, and what’s next
The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection heard from election workers and state officials on Tuesday as it described former President Donald Trump’s pressure on states to overturn his 2020 election defeat
3:37PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson dies at age 26
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson has died at age 26
7:23PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Scheffler, McIlroy highlight strong field at Travelers
This week's Travelers Championship will feature six of the  world’s top 15 ranked players, including No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and No. 2 Rory McIlroy
7:21PM ( 23 minutes ago )
AP source: Jerami Grant to be traded to Portland by Detroit
A person with knowledge of the situation said the Detroit Pistons have agreed to trade Olympic gold medalist Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers, with the biggest part of the return being a first-round pick in the 2025 draft
7:18PM ( 26 minutes ago )
2 priests killed in Mexico devoted decades to remote region
Well before many roads were paved in Mexico’s remote Tarahumara mountains, Jesuit priest Javier Campos crisscrossed the area on a motorcycle
7:13PM ( 31 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: How Biden's proposed gas tax holiday would work
Facing stubbornly high gas prices that average about $5 a gallon nationwide, President Joe Biden has urged Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months
6:56PM ( 48 minutes ago )