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School shooting in Texas: Unpunished school police chief suspended after weeks of brewing anger over failed response to gunman

Written by Javed Iqbal

On Tuesday, the top Texas official in charge of the investigation described the answer as an “object failure”.
At the center of the furore has been the school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo. On Wednesday, almost a month after the massacre, he was put on leave.

“From the beginning of this horrific event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making staff decisions,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement.

“Today, I am still without details about the investigations being carried out by various bodies. Due to the ambiguity that remains and the unknown time of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave with effect from that date, “he said.

Arredondo and the responding law enforcement agencies have come under fierce criticism the length of time officers were stationed in a hallway outside adjacent classrooms 111 and 112 at Robb Elementary, where an 18-year-old gunman and the victims were located.
Armed men fired at responding officers in the first minutes of the shooting, two of whom received grazing wounds, according to a updated timeline from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Still, it would take more than 70 minutes before the gunman was shot and killed authorities who stormed the room.
Earlier this month, Arredondo told The Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself an incident manager and did not instruct the officers to refrain from breaking the stage.
Uvalde school police chief says he did not keep officers from breaking the massacre site and did not consider himself a commander, the report says
Berlinda Irene Arreola, grandmother of shot victims Amerie Jo Garza, spoke at a tense city council meeting Tuesday where Arredondo was not present. The school police chief was elected into the council earlier this year and has stayed out of the public eye since the shooting.

“He let us down,” Arreola said of Arredondo to council members. “Do not make the same mistake he made and deceive us too. Go ahead and do it right … please, we beg, get this man out of our lives.”

The council later voted unanimously to deny Arredondo leave forthcoming council meetings, and the decision was met with applause from the residents present. According to the city charter, Arredondo could be removed from office if he fails to attend three consecutive city council meetings without apology.

Arreola spoke to CNN on Wednesday about the pain of losing 10-year-old Amerie as well as the subsequent fallout, with preliminary details from studies indicating that more could have been done in the past.

“It’s getting harder and harder every day to miss her, the pain we feel. But also with the anger that unfolds before our eyes,” Arreola said. CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“We have to speak on behalf of all these children, all these families. We have to put things right, we have to get to the bottom of everything that has happened and find out the truth.”

The Senate is moving on gun laws, but questions of Uvalde shooting response deepen families' pain
Amerie’s stepfather, Angel Garza, was a medical first aider to the shooting scene and told CNN on Wednesday that he did not understand how police failed to act as they were located outside the classroom, so close to the victims.

“I just do not understand how you can hear these children crying and asking for help, but you are afraid to come in because your commander does not want you to go in,” he said.

Parents, including himself, “were just outside” the school. “I was trying to get in, I was handcuffed,” he said, despairing that the police he trusted “did not save my daughter or any of the other children.”

Arredondo testified before a committee in Texas House behind closed doors Tuesday the day of the shooting and did not comment publicly. CNN has contacted Arredondo’s lawyer for a comment.

Lieutenant Mike Hernandez assumes duties as UCISD Chief of Police during Arredondo’s leave, according to the school district.

Elected mayor shouts DPS director

While Arredondo has received the brunt of public criticism of how the police handled the crisis, the mayor of Uvalde was quick to point out on Tuesday that he believes other law enforcement agencies should also be held accountable and provide updates to city officials.

In sharp remarks at the city council meeting, Mayor Don McLaughlin accused DPS director Colonel Steven McCraw of evading the responsibility of his department, noting that officers from at least eight law enforcement agencies were inside Robb Elementary during the shooting.

Uvalde's mayor criticizes the state agency investigating school massacres, saying elementary building will be demolished

“Colonel McCraw is still – whether you want to call it that – lying, leaking, misleading or misinformation to remove his own troops and Rangers from the response. Each briefing he omits the number of his own officers and Rangers who were on the scene that day. , “said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin also denied leaks from unnamed sources that he said were intended to shift the blame over police response away from certain agencies and more toward local law enforcement.

“Colonel McCraw has an agenda and it is not to present a full report on what happened and provide factual answers to what happened to this community,” the mayor said, adding that he was supposed to receive a daily briefing from the authorities since the next day. the shooting, but no one has been delivered.

McCraw Tuesday at Hearing in the Texas Senate accused Arredondo of ordering police to wait for unnecessary equipment and keys to a door that may not have been locked as a suspect.

CNN has contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety for a comment.

CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Matthew J. Friedman, Amanda Musa, Eric Levenson, Christina Maxouris, Rosalina Nieves, Andy Rose and Amy Simonson contributed to this report.

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Javed Iqbal

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