“Due to the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when the results of the investigations will be received, I have taken the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave in effect on this date,” Harrell wrote in an announcement to the media. .
Harrell said Lieutenant Mike Hernandez is taking over as UCISD Chief of Police.
The supervisor wrote that he intended to wait until the investigation was over before making personnel decisions.
“Today, I am still without details of the investigations conducted by the various agencies,” he wrote.
Arredondo testified Tuesday behind closed doors in Austin to a Texas House of Representatives committee seeking answers for what happened on May 24 when 21 people were shot dead at an elementary school, but he has not spoken publicly about his decision on the day of the shooting.
The school district’s announcement comes a day after Uvalde City Council, of which Arredondo is a new member, voted to reject his request for leave.
Harel is not alone in being frustrated by the lack of information from the investigators.
Uvald Mayor Don McLaughlin on Tuesday criticized the Texas Department of Public Security (DPS) for its lack of transparency and accused its director, Col.
“Colonel McCraw has an agenda, not to give a full account of what happened and give realistic answers about what happened to this community,” he added.
In addition, state Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat representing Ovaldi County, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against DPS, arguing that the agency violated the Texas Public Information Act when his request for information about the shooting was ignored.
The lawsuit states, “In the wake of the senseless tragedy, the people of Ovaldi and Texas have demanded answers from their government. So far, they have been met with lies, misrepresentations, and shifts of blame.”
DPS director Arredondo, identified by McCra and others as the commander at the site, was accused of ordering police to wait in a nearby corridor to obtain unnecessary equipment and keys for a door that had not even been locked.
“Three minutes after the person entered the western building, there were enough armed officers in body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” McCro said. “The only thing that prevented the dedicated officers’ porch from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the commander on the post, who decided to put the officers’ lives over the lives of children.”
However, authorities repeatedly changed their version of the basic facts about what happened inside the rooms and what the police did in response during those 77 minutes.
McLaughlin said repeated misrepresentations and shifting blame from Texas authorities were dividing society and frustrating grieving families
“What matters to Ovaldi is that these heartbroken families and this grieving community will get a full investigation and an accurate account of what happened that day,” he said. “Little infighting, clickbait headlines, and politically motivated scapegoats don’t help anyone.”
CNN has reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the attorney general’s office, the chair of the Texas House Investigative Committee, and the FBI’s San Antonio office for further comments.
State Senator’s lawsuit challenges DPS secrecy
In the lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Gutierrez challenged DPS’ decisions to withhold information from the public, including police body camera footage, 911 audio reports and ballistics reports.
The suit states that “DPS violated Chapter 552 of the Texas Government by failing to provide public documents that would be presumed to be public within a reasonable time.”
In a section titled “The Cover Up,” the lawsuit notes that DPS has used an exception to the law to keep records private.
The lawsuit states that “these government agencies used the ‘continuing law enforcement exception’ to the Texas Open Records Act to deny access to information that might shed light on the response to the school shooting.”
Gutierrez is asking the Travis County District Court to rule that DPS immediately submit the documents in its records request.
District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busby issued a statement two weeks ago saying that the shooting was under investigation by the FBI and the Texas Rangers and that “any publication of records of that incident at this time would conflict with the aforementioned ongoing investigation and would impede a thorough and complete investigation.” “
However, Kelly Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation in Texas, urged transparency in a statement on Wednesday.
“It is important to note that the Texas Public Information Act does not require law enforcement investigators to withhold information from the public about a crime,” Shannon said. “The law enforcement exception to release is my discretion. In fact, many police and prosecutors across Texas routinely release investigative information to the public when they feel the need to—whether to help arrest a wanted suspect, or to get more advice about a crime Or to showcase the positive performance of the police.”
The mayor says he is frustrated by the lack of transparency
At a city council meeting, McLaughlin noted that officers from at least eight law enforcement agencies were in the hallway outside of classrooms on the day of the shooting. McLaughlin said he did not wish to pursue an elected position again and was “not covering up for anyone,” saying all responding agencies should be held accountable.
He said that the leaking of certain bits of information over the past few weeks “continues to create havoc in our society and prevents the full truth from being revealed.”
“I’m totally frustrated – maybe not as frustrated as families who have lost loved ones – but what bothers me is that I can’t give you answers or I can’t get answers,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said he was supposed to receive a daily briefing from the authorities from its inception, but no briefing was given.
“The gloves are off,” he said. “As we know, we’ll share them. We won’t back down anymore.”
The city council meeting also discussed Arredondo’s absence from the public eye.
Jamil Lynch, Andy Rose, Christina Maxuris, Amanda Moses, Rosalina Nieves, Amy Simonson, Travis Caldwell and Steve Almassi contributed to this report.