Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The former school district police chief in Uvalde, Texas, who oversaw the response to a 2022 elementary school shooting that left 21 people dead, including 19 children, is in custody on a child endangerment charge, the Uvalde jail said Thursday.

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

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

The Uvalde jail confirmed Arredondo was being booked into the facility Thursday afternoon.

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

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 department said.

The officers had been taught ​​erroneously that active shooters — or gunmen federal authorities define as someone “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 that officers first 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 others were injured.

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

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.

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

In a statement, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent 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 in the massacre, said Thursday 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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