Uvalde school district police chief sworn in as city council member a week after mass shooting
By Omar Jimenez and Andy Rose, CNN
Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who officials last week identified as the incident commander during the Robb Elementary school shooting, was sworn in as a city council member on Tuesday.
“Out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days, no ceremony was held,” Mayor Don McLaughlin said in a statement.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the attack last Tuesday. Arredondo was identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as the person who decided not to breach the school classroom where the shooter had holed up and instead stand back and wait for reinforcements.
Though DPS Director Steven McCraw did not identify Arredondo by name, he said the chief made the “wrong decision” not to engage with the gunman sooner.
The mayor originally said Monday that the special city council meeting “will not take place as scheduled, adding “our focus on Tuesday is on our families who lost loved ones.”
Although there was no formal ceremony, McLaughlin said that members of the council came to City Hall “at their convenience” during the day to be sworn in, adding that Arredondo did appear in person to receive the oath and sign paperwork.
Arredondo was elected to the council earlier this month. In his Monday statement, the mayor said Arredondo was “duly elected” and that there is “nothing in the City Charter, Election Code, or Texas Constitution that prohibits him from taking the oath of office. To our knowledge, we are currently not aware of any investigation of Mr. Arredondo.”
No response to follow-up interview request
The law enforcement response — and the chief’s decision not to confront the shooter — has come under fire as new details of the tragedy emerge, including that terrified students called 911 from inside the class begging for help while officers stood in the hallway.
On Sunday, the Justice Department announced it will conduct a review of the law enforcement response to the shooting at the mayor’s request.
Meanwhile, the DPS said Tuesday that Arredondo has not responded to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers, who are investigating the massacre.
The school’s police department and the Uvalde police department are “still cooperating,” but there has not been a recent response from Arredondo to a request for another interview with investigators, DPS spokesperson Travis Considine told CNN.
Arredondo has not responded to multiple requests from CNN for comment.
He has not spoken about the shooting publicly since two brief press statements on the day of the attack, in which he said the gunman was dead but provided little information on the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation and taking no questions.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that he wants a full accounting of what happened but added that he has 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,” the governor said, adding, “Every act of all of those officials will be known and identified and explained to the public.”
Arredondo has nearly three decades of law enforcement experience, according to the school district.
A board of trustees for the 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.”
Arredondo previously served as a captain at a school district police department in Laredo, Texas, and in multiple roles at the Uvalde Police Department.
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CNN’s Curt Devine, Nick Watt and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.