The Uvalde school district police chief resigned from his post on City Council just weeks after he was sworn in after allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Primary School that left 19 pupils and two teachers dead.
Chief Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News on Friday that he had decided to retire for the sake of the city administration. 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 deliberation, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to resign as a member of the City Council for District 3. The mayor, the city council and the city staff must continue to move forward without conclusions . I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde, ”said Arredondo.
Arredondo, who has been on administrative leave from his school district position since June 22, declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press. His attorney, George Hyde, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment Saturday.
On June 21, the city council unanimously voted to deny Arredondo a leave of absence to appear at public meetings. Relatives of the shooters pleaded with city leaders to fire him.
Representatives of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.
Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing last month that Arredondo – the commander on the ground – had made “terrible decisions” as the May 24 massacre unfolded. and that the police response was an “absent failure.”
Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, enough armed law enforcement officers were on the scene to stop the gunman, McCraw testified. Yet police officers armed with rifles stood in a schoolyard waiting 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 that officers tried to open the door while the gunman was inside, McCraw said.
McCraw said parents begged police outside the school to move in and students in the classroom repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help while more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway. Officials from other agencies have asked Arredondo to let them move in because children are at risk.
“The only thing that prevented a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the commander at the scene who decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw said.
Arredondo tried to defend his actions and told the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he accepted that someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. He said he did not have his police and campus radios, but that he used his cell phone to call tactical equipment, a sniper and the classroom keys.
It is still not clear why it took so long for the police to enter the classroom, how they communicated with each other during the attack and what their body cameras show.
Officials declined to disclose 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.