The school district police chief who has faced criticism over his delay in ordering law enforcement to breach the classroom where a gunman fatally shot students at Robb Elementary School, did not appear at a city council meeting in Uvalde on Tuesday, despite being sworn in on May 31.
Police Chief Pete Arredondo is facing growing public criticism and scrutiny over his response to the mass shooting on May 24 in which Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers.
Arredondo was reportedly the law enforcement official at the scene of the shooting but decided not to immediately breach the classroom that the shooter had entered, instead ordering officers to hold and wait for backup, according to Texas officials. Officers eventually entered the room after nearly 50 minutes.
It is still unclear why Arredondo told officers to hold back, but the head of the state police later said this was the “wrong decision, period.”
The school district police chief has largely remained out of the public eye since the tragic events and was a no-show on Tuesday at the meeting at City Hall, despite being recently elected to the panel, having won the election prior to the shooting.
Mayor Don McLaughlin told reporters at the meeting that he was frustrated with the lack of information but could not explain Arredondo’s absence.
“We want facts and answers, just like everybody else,” the mayor said. “Peter Arredondo was elected by the people in his district. So it’s up to his district and his people and it’s up to Mr. Arredondo to do what he wants to do,” McLaughlin said. “I can’t speak for him. And I’m not going to try to.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police for comment.
Arredondo’s no-show at Tuesday’s meeting comes shortly after State Sen. Roland Gutierrez said that a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) official informed him that Arredondo didn’t have a radio during the massacre.
He further stated that Arredondo didn’t know there were panicked 911 calls being made by children in the school while the gunman was inside the building, which he called a “system failure.”
Meanwhile, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas DPS, said Arredondo believed the active shooting had turned into a “hostage situation” and had thus ordered law enforcement not to enter the classroom more quickly and confront the gunman.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said the decision “may have” cost lives.
The shooting has prompted tensions between state and local authorities over how law enforcement officials handled the shooting, as well as how the events of the massacre were communicated to the public.
Authorities are still investigating the matter. The school district’s board of trustees also voted on June 4 not to suspend or terminate Arredondo.
A father of one of the victims told KENS 5 on Tuesday that if Arredondo were to have attended the meeting, he would have questioned him over why he allegedly told his officers not to breach the classroom the gunman had occupied.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.