Pete Arredondo, the incident commander for Robb Elementary School when a gunman murdered 19 children and two adults late last month, is now on administrative leave following an outpouring of criticism about how law enforcement handled the matter. Uvalde Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell announced on Wednesday that he placed Arredondo on leave pending the results of investigations into the incident.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Harrell said. “Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies. 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.”
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw was one of many who criticized the response to the shooting. Arredondo and other officers entered the school only minutes after the shooter but did not actually force their way into the classroom to neutralize the suspect for more than 70 minutes. Many have pointed to this hesitation as one of several factors that allowed the gunman to take so many lives.
“Three minutes after the suspect entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject,” McCraw told a special Texas Senate committee. “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.”
Fox News reported:
A ballistic shield and several officers, including some with rifles, were inside the school within 20 minutes of the shooting, but Arredondo decided to hold back and wait for more tactical gear, firepower, and keys to open the door, which wasn’t necessary because the door was unlocked the whole time, according to McCraw.
Arredondo, in his only public comments since the shooting, told the Texas Tribune that he “didn’t issue any orders” and didn’t consider himself the incident commander.
McCraw told reporters that Arredondo believed the gunman had barricaded himself inside the room and that it was not an active-shooter situation.
The Department of Justice recently announced it would be launching its own investigation into the incident. It will focus on how local law enforcement handled the situation to gain information that will help to prevent these types of mishaps in the future.
As more information emerges about this tragedy, people are becoming more and more outraged. The details continue to cast officers in a negative light. It appears that from start to finish, they mishandled the situation. From hesitating to enter the room to handcuffing a parent seeking to rescue their children from the assault, it seems law enforcement did not mount an effective response, which likely cost more lives in the process. Hopefully, investigators will discover what went wrong and how to rectify the problem in the future. But unless the government employs effective measures to stop these shootings from occurring in the first place, we will see even more of these atrocities.