Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief Pete Arredondo resigned from his role in the city council Saturday after receiving a wave of backlash over the police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting.
The school police chief first announced his resignation to Uvalde Leader-News, a local outlet, before making it official in a letter sent to the council. He said he is stepping down in order to “minimize further distractions” in the aftermath of the school shooting.
“As we continue to grieve over the tragedy that occurred on May 24th, we pray for the families involved and our community,” his resignation letter said. “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.”
“As I think about my life, from growing up as a child and to adulthood, Uvalde has held an attraction that is very unique. At the center of that attraction, is our community members. Together, we will keep Uvalde strong. Uvalde strong, Uvalde home,” the letter continued. “Lastly, after much consideration, it is in the best interest of the community to step down as a member of the City Council for District 3 to minimize further distractions.”
The City of Uvalde released a statement calling the resignation “the right thing to do” after receiving word that Arredondo intended to resign.
“The City received information from the local paper this morning, the Uvalde Leader News, that Councilman Pete Arredondo indicated he intends to resign from the City of Uvalde City Council,” the statement said. “While it is the right thing to do, no one from the City has seen a letter or any other documentation of his resignation, or spoken with him.”
Arredondo’s resignation came after the council rejected his request June 21 for an extended leave of absence, Uvalde Leader-News reported. He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and sworn in May 31.
The public expressed outrage toward the police chief and law enforcement after the police department’s delayed response to an active-shooter situation that claimed the lives of 19 children and 2 fourth-grade teachers. Texas Department of Safety Director Steven McCraw reported that 19 officers entered the building at 11:35 a.m., two minutes after the suspected shooter Salvador Ramos, but waited in the hallways for over an hour to receive tactical gear, a sniper and keys to the classroom before breaching the room to encounter the suspect.
Authorities never attempted to unlock the door to the adjoined classrooms, likely believing it automatically locked when shut, according to the San Antonio Express-News, citing surveillance footage. The door may have been open due to a possible malfunction.
Law enforcement did not engage Ramos until around 12:50 p.m. when a specialized Border Patrol Tactical Unit breached the room and fatally shot the suspected shooter.
Children repeatedly called 911 begging the emergency line to send the police while officers were located in the hallway just outside. The first call came through at 12:03, when a student told the operator she was in room 112, according to the New York Times. Another student called at 12:16 reporting there were 8 or 9 students still alive. A student told 911 to “please send the police now” at 12:43 and 12:47.
The police chief ordered a master key to enter the room at 12:11 p.m., according to radio conversations. He ordered the officers to wait and asked for a breaching tool. He also reportedly told law enforcement not to shoot in order to protect the kids.
The school district’s superintendent, Dr. Hal Harrell, placed Arredondo on administrative leave on June 22 while the police response to the school shooting remains under investigation.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into the police response in late May.