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Uvalde (Texas) school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo was placed on administrative leave following criticism that he was slow to respond to the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
The head of the school district, Hal Harrell, announced in a statement that he has placed Arredondo on administrative leave and that another officer will assume his duties.
He didn’t explain why he has decided to remove Arredondo, but cited a lack of information about when the results of the ongoing investigation into the police response to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde may be forthcoming.
Arredondo and other Texas law enforcement officials have been sharply criticized for their response to the shooting.
The announcement comes a day after Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw testified in front of a Texas Senate committee and said Arredondo made terrible decisions as the massacre unfolded.
According to McCraw, there were enough police officers to respond to the shooting just three minutes after the perpetrator, Salvador Ramos, entered the school through a door.
However, armed police officers waited in the hallway for 77 minutes while the assailant perpetrated the massacre in two of the classrooms.
The federal government is investigating the police response, and it is not yet known why the officers took so long to confront the attacker.
The investigation is expected to provide more details about communication between different police forces.
Arredondo, who is the chief of the police force in charge of schools in Uvalde, attempted to defend himself recently in an interview with the Texas Tribune newspaper, in which he claimed he didn’t know he was in charge of the response to the shooting and had assumed another police force had taken over.
The Uvalde shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in the last decade, after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, where 26 people lost their lives.