Who is Pete Arredondo? Uvalde police chief under scrutiny for inaction as massacre unfolded
Uvalde police are also facing growing criticism over first-hand accounts and videos showing them restraining frantic parents
Uvalde's school district police chief Pete Arredondo is facing criticism for ordering his officers not to engage with the active shooter at Robb Elementary School after the gunman barricaded himself in a classroom as kids cowered inside and called 911. Arredondo is a former 911 dispatcher with an unremarkable career and was elected to the city council just days before the massacre. However, after his wrong decision of refusing to let his officers engage, Arredondo is under fire.
Students trapped inside the classroom with the gunman repeatedly called 911 during the massacre, including one who pleaded, “Please send the police now,” as officers waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes, authorities said Friday, May 27. The commander at the scene in Uvalde — the school district’s police chief — believed that 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School and that children were no longer at risk, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a contentious news conference. "With the benefit of hindsight, from where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period," McCraw said.
Friday's conference came after authorities spent three days providing information about the 90 minutes that elapsed between the time Ramos entered the school and when US Border Patrol agents unlocked the classroom door and killed him. When the border agents were set to enter the room, there were as many as 19 officers in the hallway outside, McCraw said. According to a law enforcement official who anonymously spoke to The New York Times, the agents had been puzzled as to why they were being told not to enter the school and engage the gunman.
Arredondo was not at Friday's press conference to answer questions and it remains unconfirmed if he was even inside the school at the time of the shooting. Questions have mounted over the amount of time it took officers to enter the school to confront the gunman. Moreover, Uvalde police are also facing growing criticism over first-hand accounts and videos showing them handcuffing and restraining frantic parents, who were urging them to storm the Robb Elementary school building amid the massacre.
"The police were doing nothing,' Angeli Rose Gomez told the Wall Street Journal. 'They were just standing outside the fence. They weren't going in there or running anywhere." She was one of the desperate parents who encouraged police with increasing urgency to enter the school.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Friday, May 27, he is demanding a full accounting of what happened during the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, but said he had no say in whether the school district's police chief should be fired.
"As far as his employment status is concerned, that's something that is beyond my control and I have no knowledge about," said Abbott. "Every act of all of those officials will be known and identified and explained to the public."
Arredondo is identified on the Uvalde school district website as the police chief. Arredondo has nearly three decades of law enforcement experience, according to the school district, and was recently elected to a seat on Uvalde's city council. A board of trustees for the school district approved Arredondo to head the department in 2020. The district's superintendent, Hal Harrell, said in a Facebook post at the time the board was "confident with our selection and impressed with his experience, knowledge, and community involvement."
In March this year, Arredondo posted on Facebook his department was hosting an "Active Shooter Training" at Uvalde High School in an effort to prepare local law enforcement to respond to "any situation that may arise." A flyer for the event he posted stated topics covered would include priorities for school-based law enforcement and how to "Stop the Killing."
Arredondo previously served as a captain at a school district police department in Laredo, Texas, and in multiple roles at the Uvalde Police Department.