HOUSTON (Reuters) – The district police chief in Ovaldi, Texas, has been placed on administrative leave after a top state police official criticized him for delaying a confrontation with a gunman at Robb Elementary School last month, the school district said on Wednesday.
Commander Pete Arredondo was among the first officers to arrive at the school after the shooting began on May 24. According to the state police chief, Stephen Macro, he was also the incident leader to respond, which Mr Macro described as “miserable failure. “
Although officers from several quarters entered the school minutes after a gunman opened fire in two connected classrooms, they waited more than an hour before confronting him and killing him. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack.
District Director Hal Harrell said: In a press release He was planning to “wait for the investigation to be completed before making personnel decisions.” But he said he eventually made the decision to give the president time off due to “the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when results will be received.”
The shooting and the police response are currently the subject of several investigations, including by Mr Macro’s Department of Public Safety, the US Department of Justice and a special commission from the Texas Legislature.
Dr. Harrell Lt. Mike Hernandez will take over as department chair. She has six uniformed members and a judiciary in schools in Ovaldi.
Chief Arredondo defended his decision and said In an interview this month He does not believe he was responsible for the response at Robb Elementary School. His law firm declined to comment on Wednesday.
A day before the school district’s decision, Chief Arredondo was denied leave by Uvalde City Council, which had been elected shortly before the shooting. He has not appeared in plenary sessions since the attack, and without permission could be forced to relinquish his seat on the council after three missed sessions.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s vote, some of Ovaldi’s parents and residents addressed the board and spoke forcefully against leader Arredondo.
“We have to beg you all to do something to get this guy out of our faces,” said Berlinda Areola, the grandmother of Amiri Jo Garza, during the meeting, wearing a T-shirt showing her late granddaughter. “He failed us. Don’t make the same mistake he did and fail us too.”
As the council indicated that it would refuse to leave President Arredondo, many in the crowd applauded and applauded.