Uvalde school district police chief placed on administrative leave

UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell placed its embattled police chief on administrative leave.

Harrell said in a statement that Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who has become the center of national criticism as details come out about how he and his officers responded to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School, is on leave effective Wednesday.

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Harrell didn’t want to make any personnel decisions until the investigation into the shooting was complete, but because of “the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations,” he felt he had to make the call, the statement read.

“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” the statement said. “Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies.”

Harrell said Lt. Mike Hernandez will be the interim chief, and the district will, “continue to seek qualified candidates to join our police department as we prepare for the new school year.”

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Arredondo testified in a private Texas House committee hearing Tuesday and didn’t answer any questions from reporters as he left the chamber. Arredondo has come under increased scrutiny after Steve McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety director, called his response to the shooting “an abject failure” during a public hearing in the Texas Senate chamber, also on Tuesday.

“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” McCraw said. “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from any room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”

In a June 9 interview with The Texas Tribune, Arredondo defended his response, saying, “not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children. We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced.”

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