The Uvalde, Texas, school district’s police chief was put on leave Wednesday amid increasing controversy surrounding police response to the May shooting at Robb Elementary School, the Associated Press reports.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief Pete Arredondo has been put on administrative leave after video and reports show his response was an “abject failure,” according to Texas Department of Public Safety director Col. Steve McCraw.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” said school district superintendent Hal Harrell on Wednesday. “Because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective on this date.”
The investigation, which was supported by 911 calls and security footage, shows Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old assailant, arrived at the school and began shooting outside at 11:30 a.m. on May 24. Armed officers arrived on the scene and entered the unlocked school at 11:35 a.m., but Ramos was not killed until 12:50 p.m., more than an hour and 21 deaths later.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw said at a Texas House committee meeting on Tuesday.
Arredondo did not believe he was at liberty to make decisions for other officers on the scene, assuming someone else had taken on the role of incident commander, according to an interview with the Texas Tribune. Active shooter and incidence response protocol, developed after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School and improved after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would designate the lead role to Arredondo, at least until a higher-ranking officer from another agency arrived and took control. Protocol stresses to confront shooters immediately, and Uvalde school police were reminded of this at an active-shooting training in March.
“You don’t wait for a SWAT team. You have one officer, that’s enough,” McCraw said.