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The Uvalde City Council in Texas will consider imposing a leave of absence on school police chief and councilman Peter Arredondo later Tuesday.
Uvalde Mayor Don McGlaughlin is also scheduled to hold a press conference following Tuesday night’s city council meeting. The meeting will be the council’s first full session since a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in late May.
Arredondo was the on-scene commander for the police response to the shooting, and he has come under intense scrutiny as more details of the response reach the public.
Arredondo and other officers responded within three minutes of shooter Salvador Ramos beginning his rampage, but did not breach the door to the pair of classrooms for more than an hour.
They initially claimed the door had been locked and they had to wait for a key, but Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified Tuesday that the door had, in fact, been unlocked the entire time.
“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 said. “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 went on to describe Arredondo’s response as an “abject failure.”
Arredondo, an elected councilman, has not attended any of the city council’s gatherings since the shooting occurred.
“The officers had weapons, while the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” McCraw continued. “One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds. That’s how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued. And while they waited, the on-scene commander waited for radio and rifles. And he waited for shields, and he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.”
Arredondo gave his account of the shooting in a June 10 interview with the Texas Tribune. He argued he was not the on-scene commander for the event and that he had assumed someone else had taken over once more police arrived.
He also described waiting outside the classroom with other officers, saying they were focused on getting more equipment and evacuating the rest of the school.
“Each time I tried a key I was just praying,” he said of the door that was unlocked.