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The chief of the Uvalde School District’s in-house police department has resigned his seat on the Uvalde City Council, according to a widely cited Saturday, July 2 report in the Uvalde Leader-News.
“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,” Pete Arredondo reportedly told the local newspaper. “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.”
The newspaper noted that Arredondo “maintains he was not the incident commander” when 21 people were massacred at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
BREAKING NEWS 🚨 Pete Arredondo is resigning from the Uvalde city council following calls for him to step down amid questions about how he responded to the Robb Elementary shooting.
— KENS 5 (@KENS5) July 2, 2022
Texas law enforcement officials, including Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, have harshly criticized Arredondo for — in McCraw’s words — “decid[ing] to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
According to a Texas Tribune synopsis of McCraw’s recent testimony before a Lone Star State legislative committee, Arredondo was “the rightful incident commander because he was the most senior first responder who had immediate jurisdiction over the district’s campuses.” The Tribune, again summarizing McCraw, said “Arredondo could have transferred command to another agency, such as state troopers who arrived, but never did so.”
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said recently that he believed the legislative hearing that included McCraw’s testimony looked like an episode of the “Bozo the Clown Show.”
McLaughlin said eight law enforcement agencies were in the school hallway and that the blame for failing to move quickly to save innocent lives should be spread among them.
On June 21, the city council refused to grant Arredondo a leave of absence from official meetings, according to San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS-TV. Saturday’s reported resignation followed.
Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV reported that the school district placed Arredondo on administrative leave in late June. Many in the community have called upon the school board to fire Arredondo, WFAA added.
Arredondo reportedly told the local newspaper that he hoped the community would “continue to grieve over the tragedy,” “pray for the families involved and our community,” and “keep our faith,” which are similar to things he said in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
“As I think about my life, from growing up as a child and to adulthood, Uvalde has held an attraction that is very unique,” Arredondo reportedly went on, according to the local newspaper’s Saturday report. “At the center of that attraction, is our community members. Together, we will keep Uvalde strong.”
The Uvalde Leader-News further reported that Arredondo — the school police chief — was the area’s “highest paid law enforcement official.” His reported $90,750 annual salary was greater than that of the county sheriff (who reportedly earns $77,915 a year) and the city police chief (who reportedly earns $87,401 annually).
In a June 9 interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo said he was trying to find a key to get into the classroom where the shooter had holed himself up with an AR-15 rifle and killed those around him.
“My mind was to get there as fast as possible, eliminate any threats, and protect the students and staff,” Arredondo reportedly said back then. “Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children.”
Arredondo also reportedly claimed that the doors to the classroom where the massacre occurred were locked and that none of the many keys brought to him would open the door. Seventy-seven minutes went by before entry was made, according to the Tribune.
McCraw has said the door was not locked.
[This report, which began as a developing story, has been updated.]
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