Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief of Uvalde, Texas, has become the target of anger and blame for law enforcement’s delayed actions during a May 24 school shooting which left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said Arredondo, the commander at the scene, made the “wrong decision” to have officers wait outside the classroom rather than immediately breaching and taking out the gunman in a Friday press conference.
Officers entered Robb Elementary School at 11:35 on the day of the killings, two minutes after the shooter, and were outside the classroom for about an hour before entering with a key and fatally shooting the gunman, according to McCraw. The gunman shot and killed 21 people while barricaded in adjoining classrooms.
“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw said Friday, referring to Arredondo’s decision not to immediately breach the classroom. “It was the wrong decision, period.”
Children called 911 numerous times from the classroom where the massacre occurred, according to McCraw, and one girl reported on a call that eight or nine children were still alive at 12:16, at which point 19 officers were waiting in the hall outside the classroom, according to McCraw.
Uvalde residents expressed anger at Arredondo, who has served many of his 30 years in law enforcement officer in Uvalde, according to the Associated Press.
“You sign up to respond to those kinds of situations,” Juan Torres, a U.S. Army veteran who knew Arredondo from high school, told the AP. “If you are scared, then don’t be a police officer. Go flip burgers.”
“He dropped the ball maybe because he did not have enough experience. Who knows? People are very angry,” Maria Gonzalez, who used to drive Arredondo and her children to school together, told the AP.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Arredondo’s swearing-in ceremony for city council, originally scheduled for Tuesday, would not take place, adding that he was not under investigation and there was nothing preventing him from eventually taking his oath.
The delay comes as funerals for the shooting victims begin, and it is unclear whether Arredondo will be sworn in at a later date.
The Uvalde Police Department and the city of Uvalde did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.