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Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde, Texas school district police chief, was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday amid criticism over law enforcement’s response to the Robb Elementary School massacre that claimed 19 children and two teachers who died last month.

Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said that while the district originally planned to wait until investigations into the shooting were complete before making staffing decisions, his office was “still without details” and had taken the decision to remove Arredondo from his position while these investigations continue.

“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,” Harrell said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Arredondo’s leave is paid or unpaid. He will be replaced by Lt. Mike Hernandez.

The leader came under scrutiny after the May 24 mass shooting amid reports that officers from multiple agencies quickly arrived at the school to confront the shooter, but then put more d an hour to enter the classroom where he had locked himself.

Texas Department of Public Safety chief Col. Steve McCraw condemned law enforcement this week, saying their response was an “abject failure” and that the police “decided to put the lives of the agents before that of children”. McCraw said there were enough officers on the scene three minutes after the shooter entered the school to arrest him, adding that police never checked the classroom door to see if she was locked, rather waiting over an hour for a key.

“The officers had weapons; the kids didn’t have any,” McCraw told the Texas Tribune this week. “The officers had bulletproof vests; the children had none. The officers had training; the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. This is the time the children have waited, and the teachers have waited, in room 111 to be rescued.

Arredondo was described as the incident commander at the scene during the attack, but the leader said he did not consider himself responsible as the shooting unfolded. He defended the officers’ actions, saying his goal was to get to the school “as quickly as possible, remove any threats and protect students and staff”.

“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated even for a moment to put themselves in harm’s way to save the children,” Arredondo told the Tribune in an interview this month. “We responded to the information we had and had to adapt to whatever we were faced with.”

Arredondo, who was elected to Uvalde City Council on May 7, was recently denied a leave of absence from his council role as investigations into the shooting continue. The city council said he could be removed from office if he misses the next two meetings.

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