New information has come to light regarding the police chief who was in charge at the Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School shooting that took place earlier this year. It’s no secret by now that the chief’s decision during the incident was not only controversial, but also cost many lives and cast doubts on law enforcement abilities throughout the nation.
The San Antonio Express-News released a report this week detailing the demotion of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo at a different agency eight years prior to the massacre. According to the report, Arredondo was demoted from a high ranking position at Webb County Sheriff’s Office in 2014.
He went from assistant chief to commander at that time, with Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar telling the local news outlet that Arredondo “couldn’t get along with people,” which is what led to the demotion in part. “He just didn’t fit the qualifications or the work that I set out for him,” Sheriff Cuellar said.
Two days prior to the change in position, according to documents obtained by the San Antonio Express-News, an employee at Webb County wrote “demotion” on Arredondo’s payroll sheet.
When Arredondo left the Webb County Sheriff’s Office in 2017, he went to Laredo School District as a captain for three years before becoming the Uvalde Independent School District chief in February of 2020. According to the documents, Arredondo cast a spotlight on his hostage negotiating role in Webb County. However, according to Cuellar, that role was “exaggerated a little bit” by Arredondo on the application, making it seem as if he was the sole negotiator and an expert.
Rather, Cuellar said, it was a team effort: “It wasn’t him completely. I think he exaggerated a little bit.”
While Arredondo claimed that he somehow didn’t consider himself, the Chief of Uvalde School District Police, the incident commander on scene at the school, which is of course within the Uvalde School District. He also claimed that he was not told of the incoming 911 calls from children inside the classroom with the 18-year-old murderer.
Arredondo said that “time was of the essence” in responding to this incident (during which officers did not engage the active shooter for 77 minutes), so he didn’t have time to grab his police radio. He also said that the radios he had would “get in his way,” according to his interview with the Texas Tribune, as “one had a whiplike antenna that hit him when he ran, and one had a clip he said would cause it to fall off his tactical belt during a long run.”
Another excuse he gave for not having communication devices was that he knew from experience that the radios didn’t work in some of the school buildings. Arredondo claimed that he went inside the school when he arrived and started checking classrooms.
It’s unclear whether he ever made an attempt to get his officers radios that actually worked in the schools, which is primarily where they were stationed as school district police officers.
The Texas legislature issued a report last month that said Arredondo “failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander.”
“The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help,” the report read, “and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon. We do not know at this time whether responders could have saved more lives by shortening that delay.”
Arredondo has been placed on leave by the district and also resigned from his seat on Uvalde City Council, which he only got in May and never participated in.