Uvalde schools' police chief Pete Arredondo resigns from City Council

Uvalde police chief quits city council just weeks after he was sworn in as he’s blamed for ‘terrible decisions’ that let school massacre gunman rampage for an hour, killing 19 children and two teachers

  • The head of the Uvalde, Texas, school police force quit his City Council seat amid criticism over his response to a mass shooting at an elementary school 
  • Pete Arredondo was elected to Uvalde’s City Council a few weeks before the May 24 shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers
  • Arredondo said in letter he was stepping down ‘to minimize further distractions’. He remains as police chief – although condemnation is growing 
  • A top state law enforcement official said last month that Arredondo, the onsite commander during the shooting, made ‘terrible decisions’ 
  • Official said officers at the scene lacked sufficient training, costing valuable time during which lives might have been saved
  • Uvalde’s government said resigning was ‘the right thing to do’ for Arredondo 
  • Arredondo has said he never considered himself incident commander and that he did not order police to hold back on breaching the building
  • Many parents and relatives of children and staff at Robb Elementary School have expressed anger over delays in police action after gunman entered the school
  • As many as 19 officers waited for more than an hour in a hallway before a U.S. Border Patrol-led tactical team finally made entry and killed 18-year-old gunman
  • Police wasted time searching for a key to the classroom where the shooting occurred, but that the door that needed opening was not even locked

Uvalde’s scandal-hit police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn-in.

Pete Arredondo announced his resignation from the council Friday, and said he was leaving ‘to minimize further distractions.’

He was elected on May 7 and sworn in on May 31 – seven days after gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in the Texan city.

Arredondo has been blasted for letting Ramos rampage unchecked for an hour, and has faced calls to quit as police chief too.

‘The mayor, the city council, and the city staff must continue to move forward to unite our community once again,’ Arredondo said in his resignation, first reported by the Uvalde Leader-News.

Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, second from left, has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students dead

Arredondo said in letter he was stepping down ‘to minimize further distractions’

The front page of the Uvalde Leader-News from Sunday, July 3rd is pictured

Arredondo, who has been on administrative leave from his school district position since June 22, has declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press. His attorney, George Hyde, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment Saturday.

On June 21, the City Council voted unanimously to deny Arredondo a leave of absence from appearing at public meetings as outrage over the ‘terrible decisions’ he’s accused of taking on the day of the shooting rumbles on. Relatives of the shooting victims had pleaded with city leaders to fire him.

The Uvalde City Council released Arredondo’s resignation letter Saturday, after city officials received notification of his intent to step down via email, but did not comment further.

Representatives of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin have not responded to AP’s requests for comment.

Many parents and relatives of children and staff at Robb Elementary School have expressed anger over delays in police action after gunman entered the school 

Uvalde residents Kim Hammond, right, and Donna Torres protest for accountability and the removal of Uvalde schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo, next to the memorial for the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting, at Uvalde Town Square, Texas last month

A camera shows officers with rifles and at least one ballistic shield inside at 11:52am – only 19 minutes after the gunman entered two classrooms. Officers had rifles and a ballistic shield on site in minutes – but still waited an hour to enter classroom

Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Arredondo – the on-site commander – 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 stood and 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.

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas,in May 

19 children and 2 teachers who died in the mass shooting are displayed at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde

‘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.

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 has spent much of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city.

A campaign sign for Pete Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, hangs on a fence in Uvalde, Texas

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