Saturday, June 3

Former Laredo officer scrutinized for response during Uvalde massacre

New details emerged this week about the investigation into the mass shooting that happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 dead, including 19 children and two teachers. Specifically, there are major concerns that law enforcement made a devastating mistake by waiting too long to engage with the shooter inside the fourth-grade classroom.

As it turns out, the incident commander on scene who is under fire is a former Laredoan who worked for UISD and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, and is a recently-elected Uvalde city councilmember. He allegedly ordered law enforcement to wait for reinforcements and to not engage the shooter for close to an hour.

In a press conference on Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw identified Pete Arredondo, who serves as the chief police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, as the incident commander of the situation at the school. The DPS director stated that it was a mistake to listen to the orders provided by Arredondo.

Arredondo had hoped to wait for the United States Border Patrol Tactical Unit in the situation and for the keys to enter the classroom by a school janitor. Thus, Arredondo is being criticized for his slow approach to the situation by DPS and other officers.

“With the benefit of hindsight, from where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw said at the press conference. “It was the wrong decision, period. Clearly, there were kids in the room. Clearly, they were at risk.”

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According to McCraw, the decision to not engage with the shooter earlier was due to Arredondo believing the situation had changed from an active shooter situation — someone is shooting people to kill them — into a barricaded shooter situation — the shooter is alone in a room without any survivors left in it.

Unfortunately, the idea that there were no more survivors was wrong as several students did survive the direct attack, and some also even called 911 while inside the classroom. The shooter actually shot one of the students who tried to call the police for help.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Arredondo did not attend Friday’s news conference as law enforcement and other officials discussed the ongoing investigation. McCraw also did not refer to him by name, only by title.

The Austin newspaper stated that “for 77 minutes, according to a new timeline provided by McCraw, the shooter traveled between two classrooms connected by a shared bathroom while students and teachers were calling 911 for help, including a girl who begged: ‘Please send police now.’”

Arredondo is originally from the Uvalde area but has also held several positions in Laredo and Webb County. Prior to his job in Uvalde, he worked in Laredo as a police captain for the United Independent School District. Arredondo also worked in the Webb County Sheriff Department’s office as well as an administrator, commander, assistant chief and administrative assistant.

Prior to his positions in Laredo, Arredondo worked in Uvalde as part of the local law enforcement presence beginning in 1993 when he held multiple roles, from dispatcher all the way up to assistant chief of the police.

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Recently, Arredondo won the election on May 7 for Uvalde District III Councilmember. He is slated to be sworn in on Tuesday, May 31, 2022 — exactly one week from when the mass shooting occurred.

Prior to his announcement of running for office, Arredondo had touted his time as a lawman being one of the reason why people should support him in his campaign, according to the Uvalde Leader-News.

“Working in law enforcement for years has been an honor and a blessing, and with the opportunity to serve as a chief for three agencies with budgets exceeding $20 million, my knowledge for budget responsibility has been successful and accountable,” Arredondo said. “We want to make sure we are available wherever we are needed.

“As a strong leader with a sense of teamwork and building strong partnerships, I know we can improve our unique small city of Uvalde. If elected to office, I pledge to be available for you in a timely manner and open to your suggestions and opinions to help improve our Uvalde.”

Arredondo is a graduate of Uvalde High School in 1990 and went on to receive degrees from Southwest Texas Junior College and Texas A&M Commerce.

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