The head of the Uvalde school district police force — who oversaw the response to a school shooting in which 19 children were killed last month in Texas — has been suspended, the force’s superintendent said on Wednesday.
The announcement came a day after the head of Texas’ public safety department called the police response to the massacre an “abject failure.”
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement.
“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 [Pete] Arredondo on administrative leave effective on this date,” Harrell said.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed when a teenager went on a shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
Police eventually shot and killed the teen.
Local police have been under intense scrutiny since it emerged that more than a dozen officers waited for an hour outside a pair of adjoining classrooms where the shooting was taking place and did nothing as children lay dead or dying inside.
On Tuesday, Steve McCraw, Texas’ head of public safety, told state senators during a hearing that Arredondo “decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” McCraw said, referring to the 1999 Colorado high-school shooting in which 13 people were killed.
“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” McCraw said.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLoughlin on Tuesday said that the school would be demolished.
“You can never ask a child to go back, or a teacher to go back in that school ever,” McLoughlin told a city council meeting.
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