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Indictment accuses former Uvalde schools police chief of delays while shooter was 'hunting' children

Pete Arredondo was arrested and briefly booked into jail on 10 state jail felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child.
Robb Elementary School in Uvalde
Posted at 11:53 AM, Jun 28, 2024

The police chief for schools in Uvalde, Texas, failed to identify an active shooting, did not follow his training and made critical decisions that slowed the law enforcement response to stop a killer who was “hunting” victims and ultimately killed 21 people at Robb Elementary, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.

Pete Arredondo was arrested and briefly booked into jail before he was released Thursday night on 10 state jail felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child in the May 24, 2022, attack that killed 19 children and two teachers in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

Former school officer Adrian Gonzales also was indicted on multiple similar charges, the Uvalde Leader-News and the San Antonio Express-News reported. The Uvalde newspaper reported that District Attorney Christina Mitchell confirmed the indictment.

Arredondo, who was the on-site commander during the attack, and Gonzales are the first officers to face criminal charges.

The indictment against Arredondo, who was the on-site commander at the shooting, accused the chief of delaying the police response despite hearing shots fired and being notified that injured children were in the classrooms and that a teacher had been shot. Arredondo called for a SWAT team, ordered the initial responding officers to evacuate the building instead of confronting the shooter, and attempted to negotiate with the 18-year-old gunman, the indictment said.

More than 370 federal, state and local officers converged on the scene, but they waited more than 70 minutes before confronting the shooter, even as the gunman could be heard firing an AR-15-style rifle. Terrified students inside the classroom called 911 as agonized parents begged officers — some of whom could hear shots being fired while they stood in a hallway — to go in. A tactical team of officers eventually went into the classroom and killed the shooter.

The indictment charges Arredondo with failing to protect survivors of the attack, including Khloie Torres, who called 911 and begged for help, telling a dispatcher, “Please hurry. There’s a lot of dead bodies. Some of my teachers are still alive but they’re shot.”

The state jail felony charges carry up to two years in jail if convicted.

Scathing state and federal investigative reports on the police response previously catalogued “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership and technology problems that day.

Arredondo lost his job three months after the shooting. Several officers involved were eventually fired, and separate investigations by the Department of Justice and state lawmakers faulted law enforcement with botching their response to the massacre.

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