Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The former school district police chief in Uvalde, Texas, who oversaw the response to the 2022 elementary school shooting that killed 21 people, including 19 children, was arrested on a child endangerment charge, an official at the Uvalde jail said Thursday.

Pete Arredondo, 52, was taken in by law enforcement officers and is accused of abandoning and endangering a child, the jail official said.

The charge was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

The Uvalde jail official confirmed Arredondo was being booked into the facility Thursday afternoon. Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco said Thursday night that Arredondo was released on bond.

Arredondo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It was unclear whether an attorney is representing him.

A second officer has been indicted on multiple similar charges, according to a parent of one of the slain children, who asked not to be identified.

The Uvalde Leader-News and the San Antonio Express-News also reported that charges had been brought against the man, who has not been publicly identified by authorities.

Early this year, the Justice Department released a 600-page report that said poor coordination, training and execution of “active shooter” protocols led to a “failure” in the response of the Uvalde officers who rushed to the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022.

Instead of continuing to engage the 18-year-old gunman — who was locked in a classroom with 33 students and three teachers — officers retreated after an initial burst of gunfire and did not “push forward immediately and continuously to eliminate the threat,” the Justice Department said.

The officers had been taught ​​erroneously that a situation involving an active shooter — an armed peron whom federal authorities define as “actively” killing or trying to kill others — “can easily morph into a hostage crisis,” the report says.

More than 70 minutes passed between the time officers arrived at the school and when the gunman was confronted and killed. In addition to the 19 students, two teachers were fatally shot, and 17 other people were injured.

State lawmakers previously came to a conclusion similar to the Justice Department’s, with a 2022 report that said “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” plagued the law enforcement and school district response. 

Arredondo, described in the Justice Department’s report as the scene’s de facto commander, was among the officers to have faced administrative punishment over the response.

Uvalde’s school board fired him last year. At the time, his lawyer described him as a victim of the shooting and said his firing was an “illegal and unconstitutional public lynching.”

In a statement, the school district said it had no information.

“As we have done and continue to do, we extend our sincerest sympathies to all who lost loved ones,” it said. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this challenging situation.”

Berlinda Arreola, whose 10-year-old granddaughter, Amerie Jo Garza, was among those killed, said Thursday that Arredondo’s arrest is not a “happy moment.”

“It’s still a sad moment. There’s nothing to be happy about,” she said. “We are having to relive this nightmare again knowing they had the chance to save some of our loved ones — maybe all of them.”

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#Uvalde #school #district #police #chief #charged #child #endangerment #shooting #killed

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