UPDATED 7/2, 7:22 p.m. ET: Pete Arredondo, the embattled police chief for the Uvalde school district, has resigned from city council.
“After much consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to step down as a member of the city council for District 3,” he wrote in a resignation letter shared by the Uvalde Leader-News. “The mayor, the city council, and the city staff must continue to move forward without distractions. I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde.”
Arredondo was elected to the position in early May and was sworn in as a city councilman on May 31, exactly one week after the massacre at Robb Elementary. The chief has since faced mounting criticism over his department’s slow response to the school shooting, which left 19 kids and two teachers dead.
“As we continue to grieve over the tragedy that occurred on May 24th, we pray for the families involved and our community. Uvalde has a rich history of loving and supporting thy neighbor and we must continue to do so,” the letter continued. “In speaking with other communities that have had similar tragedies, the guidance has been the same … continue to support the families, continue to support our community, and definitely, to keep our faith.”
According to the Uvalde Leader-News, Arredondo had previously asked the council for an extended leave in light of the tragedy and scrutiny he faced. His request was reportedly denied on June 21.
“As I think about my life, from growing up as a child and to adulthood, Uvalde has held an attraction that is very unique,” he wrote. “At the center of that attraction, is our community members. Together, we will keep Uvalde strong. Uvalde strong, Uvalde home.”
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Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, per ABC News.
News of Arredondo being placed on leave comes nearly one month after the tragic massacre at Robb Elementary School in which 19 children and two teachers were killed. Dr. Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said he originally intended on waiting until the conclusion of an investigation before making any personnel changes.
“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. “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.”
Lt. Mike Hernandez will take over as police chief in the interim.
Arrendondo has repeatedly come under fire for his response to the shooting as the on-scene commander, starting with a report that surfaced days after the incident indicating more than a dozen officers waited for over an hour before entering the classroom that suspected 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos had barricaded himself with children still inside.
In the weeks that followed, we have learned Arrendondo “did not have his radio or comms on him during the incident,” was “convinced at the time that there was no more threat to the children” which allowed them “time to organize,” and “never considered himself the scene’s incident commander.”
Two months before the shooting, the Uvalde school district hosted an all-day “active shooter response” training course that preached the importance of time and forewarned law enforcement officials that those who arrive first “will usually be required to place themselves in harm’s way.”
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw said earlier this month that the shooting could have been resolved within three minutes. Meanwhile, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin criticized McCraw during a city council meeting Tuesday for attempting to deflect blame towards his own agency.
“Col. McCraw has continued to, whether you want to call it lie, leak, mislead or misstate, information in order to distance his own troopers and Rangers from the response,” McLaughlin said. “Every briefing he leaves out the number of his own officers and Rangers that were on-scene that day.”
The finger-pointing continues to go around as Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez recently filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety for allegedly ignoring requests for records pertaining to the Uvalde shooting.
Arredondo was placed on leave one day after his request for a leave of absence from future meetings was denied by the Uvalde City Council, of which he is a newly-appointed member.