Uvalde School Board Puts School Police Chief on Administrative Leave Amid Growing Criticism

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Reporter
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. He has a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him on caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au
June 22, 2022 Updated: June 22, 2022

Pete Arredondo, the embattled Uvalde school district police chief, has been placed on administrative leave as Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) officials say they continue to await details of ongoing investigations into the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” said UCISD Superintendent Hal Harrell in a statement obtained by The Epoch Times.

“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.”

Around 120 Uvalde residents joined a school board meeting on June 20, calling for Arredondo to be sacked.

He faces mounting blowback from parents and officials for his decision as the on-scene commander not to immediately breach the classroom where gunman Salvador Ramos was fatally shooting students at the Texas school on May 24.

Harrell’s statement that local UCISD officials have not been updated by various agencies with details on the investigations comes almost 20 days after he told the crowd at a previous school district board of trustees meeting on June 3 that he had no answers to give them about the status of the investigations because “they’ve not given me answers.”

At that same UCISD meeting in early June, no action was taken to suspend or fire Arredondo.

Now Harrell has announced that the school district’s Lt. Mike Hernandez will replace Arredondo as the district’s interim police chief.

“We will continue to seek qualified candidates to join our police department as we prepare for the new school year,” he added. “There will be no further information released regarding this personnel matter.”

Epoch Times Photo
A man holds a “Fire Pete Arredondo” sign at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District meeting in Uvalde, Texas, on June 20, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Council Denies Leave From Meetings

Arredondo, who was elected to the Uvalde city council two weeks before the mass shooting, was on Tuesday unanimously denied permission to take an extended leave of absence from council meetings.

The decision was met with applause from around 50 residents. The city council can declare a member’s seat vacant and hold a special election if a member misses three consecutive public meetings without a leave of absence.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin confirmed that June 21 was Arredondo’s first missed meeting and indicated his support for removing Arredondo if he misses the next two.

At the meeting, parents expressed dismay that Arredondo remained on the council and as the school district police chief.

“Please, we’re begging—get this man out of our lives,” said Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of slain Amerie Jo Garza.

Steve McCraw
Using photos of doors from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifies at a Texas Senate hearing at the state capitol in Austin, on June 21, 2022. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

During Texas Senate hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said officers waited for 77 minutes before killing Ramos despite there being “a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject.”

McCraw also said the classroom door separating officers from Ramos couldn’t have been locked from the inside.

“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,” he said.

Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. He has a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him on caden.pearson@epochtimes.com.au