Who was Uvalde schools police chief who made ‘wrong’ call?

Southwest

A law enforcement personnel lights a candle outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022. (Credit: AP)

(NewsNation) — The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas is on track to become a member of the Uvalde City Council, per multiple media reports.

A top Texas public safety official told reporters Friday that 19 police officers waited for more than 45 minutes in a hallway near where the active shooter was. Even as children called 911 and begged for help, the gunman at the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school was treated as a barricaded subject, and not an active shooter.

It was Pete Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, who decided officers should wait to confront the gunman, believing children were no longer at risk, officials said Friday.

The police’s inaction led to outrage both from the public and officials such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who said he was “livid” and had been “misled” by law enforcement officials about the police response to the shooting.

“It was the wrong decision,” Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and DPS Director Steve McCraw attend a roundtable meeting Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, with attorneys general from a dozen states who came to tour the South Texas border in Weslaco. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

According to the San Antonio Express-News, among other outlets, Arredondo, 50, is soon moving on from school district police chief to Uvalde City Council member. He got nearly 70 percent of the vote in his district, the newspaper reported, noting that there was a low turnout. His nearest challenger in the four-person race received 20% of the vote.

The Express-News reported that Arredondo will replace current council member Rogelio M. Muñoz.

NBC reported that Arredondo is set to be sworn in this Tuesday.

The Uvalde Leader-News reported in April 2020 that Uvalde is Arredondo’s hometown.

“When I heard about the opening at UCISD, I didn’t even have to think twice about applying,” Arredondo told the Leader-News. “It’s nice to come back home.”

Uvalde is a small city, and the county seat of Uvalde County, with a population of just over 16,000 according to the last U.S. Census.

Before taking his current position, the Express-News said, Arredondo was a police captain at Laredo’s United Independent School District. After graduating from Uvalde High School in 1990, he graduated from Southwest Texas Junior College and Texas A&M Commerce with a degree in organizational management, according to the Leader-News.

One of his first jobs in law enforcement was as a 911 dispatcher for the Uvalde Police Department before later becoming police chief for Uvalde School District in 2020.

NBC News reported, based on a report from the Uvalde Leader-News, that the previous chief resigned after being charged with unlawfully carrying a gun in a bar and threatening an officer.

In an interview with the local newspaper, Arredondo said he was looking forward to fostering positive relationships, being out in the community and working with his staff and students.

“We want to make sure we are available wherever we are needed,” he said, as reported by the Leader-News.

According to the Express-News, Arredondo had been incident commander during Tuesday’s shooting. He was in charge of the 19 officers who were in the hallway, the Express-News said. The newspaper said Arredondo had been trained in active-shooting situations with at least one previous department.

Arredondo could not be reached for comment Friday by the Associated Press, nor on Saturday by NewsNation.

Abbott said Friday that both the FBI and Texas Rangers will conduct an investigation into what went wrong in the police response to Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde, promising they will  “get to the bottom of every fact.”

“Why did they not choose the strategy that would have been best to get in there and eliminate the killer?” Abbott asked Friday.

Active shooter training was mandated by state lawmakers in 2019 because of school shootings. Under state law, school districts must have plans to respond to active shooters in their emergency response procedures.

Lynelle Sparks, a school police officer and executive director of the Texas Association of School Resource Officers, said security can become lax because school officials and officers don’t think something like that could ever happen in their building.

“It’s always making sure that you are prepared,” she said. “People get relaxed. It happens in every district.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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