UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The police chief of the Uvalde school district was suspended Wednesday following allegations that he was wrong in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said he has placed School Police Chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave and another officer would assume the conflicting chief’s duties. In a statement, Harrell did not give a reason for Arredondo’s removal, but said it remains unclear when district officials will know the outcome of the shooting investigation.
Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a state Senate hearing Tuesday that Arredondo, the on-scene commander, made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24, and that the police response was an “abject failure”.
Three minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the school, there were enough armed law enforcement officers on the scene to apprehend the shooter, McCraw testified. However, police officers armed with rifles waited in a hallway at the school for more than an hour as the gunman carried out the massacre. The classroom door was not lockable from the inside, but there is no indication that officers tried to open the door while the shooter was inside, McCraw said.
McCraw has said parents begged police outside the school to move out and students inside the classroom repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help as more than a dozen officers waited in a hallway. Officers from other agencies urged Arredondo to let them move out because the children were in danger.
“The only thing that stopped a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the commander on scene who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said.
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