Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo has resigned from his seat on the City Council amid widespread criticism for his ineffective response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Arredondo’s resignation comes just weeks after he was elected and sworn in to the District 3 council position on May 7. The swearing-in ceremony took place behind closed doors just a week after the tragedy on May 31.
“After much consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to step down as a member of the city council for District 3. The mayor, the city council, and the city staff must continue to move forward without distractions. I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde,” Arredondo said following the decision.
The chief, who insists he was not the incident commander the day of the shooting, has been the object of criticism from law enforcement experts and members of the community for his weak response to the shooting.
For example, Steven McCraw, executive director and colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety(DPS), told the state Senate in a hearing last month that Arredondo, who was the on-site commander during the shooting, made “terrible decisions,” and called the chief’s police response an “abject failure,” per reporting from CNN.
Others questioned Arredondo’s decision to not immediately breach the classroom where the gunman was hiding after reports that officers waited 77 minutes in the hallway before entering.
Arredondo had previously backed up his decisions and defended his officers during an interview with the Texas Tribune.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” he said. “We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced.”
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin later criticized McCraw for a lack of transparency in the ongoing DPS investigation, suggesting that Arredondo was taking the fall for someone.
“I’m not confident, 100%, in DPS because I think it’s a cover-up. McGraw’s covering up for maybe his agencies,” the mayor told CNN. He also added that during a DPS news briefing following the shooting, Arredondo was not asked any questions by DPS officials.
Arredondo was placed on administrative leave by the school district on June 22.
In his resignation letter, Arredondo encouraged the Uvalde community to continue to support grieving families.
“As we continue to grieve over the tragedy that occurred on May 24, we pray for the families involved and our community. Uvalde has a rich history of loving and supporting thy neighbor and we must continue to do so. In speaking with other communities that have had similar tragedies, the guidance has been the same … continue to support the families, continue to support our community, and definitely, to keep our faith.”
Arredondo also gave a five-hour testimony during a recent hearing on the shooting for a Texas House of Representatives executive session.
A Texas state Senate panel and the Uvalde district attorney, with assistance from the U.S. Justice Department, will conduct further probes into the shooting and review law enforcement’s response.