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The Texas elementary school police chief where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers has been placed on administrative leave amid outrage that officers failed to intervene sooner to arrest the shooter.

Under the command of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, officers stood for about an hour and 15 minutes outside classrooms where an 18-year-old with an AR-15 had opened the fire on children and teachers, according to the Texas State Police.

Amid ongoing federal and state investigations into police conduct during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, District Superintendent Hal Harrell announced that Arredondo would be placed on leave.

“Today, I still don’t have details of investigations by various agencies,” Harrell said. “Due to the remaining lack of clarity and the unknown timing at which I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective this date.”

Neither Arredondo nor his attorney immediately responded to a request for comment.

At a state hearing investigating the shooting, Texas Public Safety Chief Steve McCraw said the police response was a “dismal failure” and that officers could have arrested the shooter three minutes later. his arrival at the scene.

Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo speaks during a press conference. Photography: Mikala Compton/Reuters

“The only thing that kept a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said.

McCraw’s scathing rebuke of Arredondo came after weeks of conflicting and misleading statements from police and local officials about officers’ response to the shooting. This week, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV found that the officers were equipped with the firepower and equipment to break through the classroom doors and stop the shooter – and the transcripts and the Tapes obtained by the Texas Tribune revealed that some officers were eager to leave. despite orders to stay back.

During the massacre, the parents begged officers to move in and called 911 for help as officers waited in the hallway.

Outrage over officers who stood back for 77 minutes as students died has grown since then. Arredondo “let us down,” said Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, one of the students killed. “We beg – get this man out of our lives,” she told a meeting calling for his resignation from public office.

Arredondo was also sworn in as a member of the Uvalde city council shortly after the shooting, but did not attend meetings. The council rejected his request early Tuesday for a leave of absence from future meetings. The mayor said he would vote to replace Arredondo if he misses three consecutive meetings.

The embattled police chief differed from other law enforcement sources in his account of what happened at Robb Elementary School, telling the Texas Tribune that he did not see himself as the commander on square.

In light of conflicting statements from law enforcement, Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez sued the Department of Public Safety on Wednesday to force it to release documents detailing officers’ response to the shooting. .

“In the wake of this senseless tragedy, the people of Uvalde and Texas demanded answers from their government,” Gutierrez said in the lawsuit. “To date, they have been faced with lies, inaccuracies and shifts in responsibility.”

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