Former Uvalde school district police chief charged with child endangerment after shooting that killed 21 people

The former police chief of the Uvalde, Texas, school district who oversaw the response to a 2022 elementary school shooting that left 21 people dead, including 19 children, is in custody on child endangerment charges, the Uvalde jail announced Thursday.

Pete Arredondo, 52, was arrested by law enforcement and is charged with abandoning and endangering a child, the jail said.

The accusation was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

Uvalde Prison confirmed Arredondo was booked into the facility Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department released a 600-page report saying that poor coordination, training and execution of “active shooter” protocols among Uvalde officers who responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 led to a “failure” in their response.

Instead of continuing to confront the 18-year-old gunman, who was locked in a classroom with 33 students and three teachers, the police retreated after an initial burst of gunfire and did not “advance immediately and continuously to eliminate the threat,” the department said.

Officers had been wrongly taught that active shooters — or gunmen whom federal authorities define as someone who “actively” kills or attempts to kill others — “can easily escalate into a hostage crisis,” the statement said. report.

More than 70 minutes passed between the time police first arrived at the school and the time the shooter was confronted and killed. In addition to the 19 students, two teachers were shot and killed and 17 others were injured.

Texas state lawmakers had already reached a similar conclusion to the Justice Department, with a 2022 report saying the response by law enforcement and school districts was marred by “systemic failures and extremely poor decision-making.”

Arredondo, described in the Justice Department report as the de facto commander of the scene, was among the officers who received administrative sanctions for their intervention.

Arredondo was fired by the Uvalde school board last year. At the time, his attorney described the former principal as a victim of the shooting and said his firing was an “illegal and unconstitutional public lynching.”

In a statement, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said it had no information.

“As we have done and continue to do, we extend our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones,” he added. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this difficult situation.”

Berlinda Arreola, whose 10-year-old granddaughter, Amerie Jo Garza, was among those killed in the rampage, said Thursday that Arredondo’s arrest was not a “happy moment.”

“It’s another sad moment, there’s nothing to celebrate,” she said. “We have to relive this nightmare knowing that they were lucky enough to save some of our loved ones, maybe all of them.”

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