The personnel decision followed testimony by Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, that the response to the shooting was an “abject failure” and contradicted established practice in active shooter situations.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions. Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies,” Harrell wrote in a news release on Wednesday, June 22.
“Because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective on this date.”
Harrell indicated that Lt. Mike Hernandez will act as police chief in the meantime.
It took almost an hour and a half before a tactical team of border agents confronted and killed the 18-year-old gunman at Robb Elementary School.
McCraw indicated in remarks to a special Texas Senate committee that there were enough officers and the necessary equipment to confront the perpetrator sooner. In fact, he testified the doors were unlocked to the classrooms where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
Arredondo has claimed that he was trying to find keys so he could take out the gunman himself and that he did not consider himself the incident commander.
After the school shooting, Arredondo assumed a seat on the Uvalde City Council. He asked to be granted a leave of absence from his duties, but the council denied his request.
The shooting and the law enforcement response is being investigated by federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice.
President Biden signed an appropriations bill into law on Saturday that included limited gun control measures, such as closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole” for those convicted of domestic violence and expanding background checks for those under 21 seeking to purchase a weapon.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) orchestrated the compromise with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and others. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted against the bill.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."