Uvalde police chief who delayed officer response to shooting to join City Council

·3 min read

The police chief who reportedly made the call not to immediately send officers into Robb Elementary School to confront a gunman was elected to Uvalde's City Council just three weeks ago after running on a platform of communication and outreach to the community.

Peter Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, stopped at least 19 officers from breaking into the school as the gunman opened fire for at least an hour.

Arredondo believed that the shooter had barricaded himself and that the children were not under an active threat, Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Friday.

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision. It was a wrong decision. Period. There was no excuse for that,” McCraw said at a news conference. “There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done, with one exception, is that the incident commander inside believed he needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that time."

According to McCraw, Arredondo believed there was no active threat, so instead of sending officers in, he spent time finding keys that would let him into the school. During this time, however, the shooter had unencumbered access to carry out the attack. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed.

Arredondo was not present among law enforcement officials standing with McCraw on Friday, and McCraw did not explicitly name him.

Arredondo did not immediately return a request for comment by NBC News.

As the community demands answers and pieces together a shaky and conflicting timeline of events, scrutiny has turned to Arredondo, who was born and raised in Uvalde.

After working as the police captain at the United Independent School District in Laredo, Texas, about 140 miles south of Uvalde, Arredondo returned to his hometown in April 2020, when he accepted the position of chief of police for the Uvalde school district, according to the Uvalde Leader-News.

The former chief, Leo Flores, resigned after being arrested on charges of unlawfully carrying a gun in a bar and threatening an officer, the newspaper reported.

Arredondo told the Leader-News that he was eager to serve the community, saying he was committed to establishing a strong working relationship with the three officers he would be leading.

“We want to make sure we are available wherever we are needed,” Arredondo told the newspaper.

As Arredondo’s tenure hit two years, his local likability led to a successful bid for a City Council seat this month. He beat out three other candidates, garnering nearly 70 percent of the vote in the May 7 election, reported the Uvalde Leader-News.

The chief campaigned, largely door-to-door, on communication and outreach “to those in need,” the newspaper said.

“I’m very excited, I am ready to hit the ground running. I have plenty of ideas, and I definitely have plenty of drive,” Arredondo told the outlet this month.

Arredondo is scheduled to be sworn onto the council on Tuesday, exactly one week after the Uvalde shooting.