The police chief for the school district who made the call to not breach the classroom where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers was elected to Uvalde’s City Council just three weeks before the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who ran on a campaign that promised to engage in community outreach and communication, stopped 19 of his officers on Tuesday from breaking into Robb Elementary School because he believed the gunman had barricaded himself and was no longer an active threat to the children, who he continued to open fire on for at least an hour. NBC News reported on Mr Arredondo’s election on Saturday.
Col Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, acknowledged in a press conference on Friday that the decision made by the chief of police for Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District was “not the right” one.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” Col McCraw said of the officer’s call. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.”
Based on Col McCraw’s account, Mr Arredondo was acting on bad information and because of that, he spent those precious early moments in the active shooting trying to locate keys to access the facility.
The chief of police was not present for the news conference and is reportedly under the protection of a pair of officers from a neighbouring police department, according to the New York Times, as scrutiny over the police chief’s actions has turned inward in recent days as more of the shootings timeline has been unearthed.
Mr Arredondo had only returned to his hometown of Uvalde in recent years, after returning in 2020 from serving as a police captain with the United Independent School District in Laredo, Texas for the earlier part of his career.
He then accepted the position of chief of police in Uvalde after the man who previously held the position, Leo Flores, was forced to resign after being arrested for threatening an officer and for unlawfully carrying a gun, the Uvalde Leader-News reported.
Earlier this month, the schools police chief decided to exchange on his local likability as a law enforcement officer and see if that could translate to local politics.
The results of the 7 May election proved to make good on his gamble, as he received an overwhelming share of support from voters in the municipal election and successfully landed a seat on the Uvalde City Council, the newspaper reported.
Receiving nearly 70 per cent of the vote, he beat out three other candidates with his campaign to deliver on community outreach, fiscal responsibility and helping out the elderly.
“I’m very excited, I am ready to hit the ground running,” he told the newspaper.
Mr Arredondo did not respond when contacted by The Independent for comment.