LEILA FADEL, HOST:
The superintendent of the Uvalde, Texas, school district has placed its police chief, Pete Arredondo, on administrative leave. Arredondo has faced a lot of criticism for the slow response to last month's shooting at Robb Elementary School. Nineteen students and two teachers died after a gunman burst into the school, and authorities waited more than an hour to get inside the classroom and kill the suspect. Texas Public Radio's Dan Katz has this report.
DAN KATZ, BYLINE: The drumbeat calling for Arredondo's removal has been growing ever since last month's shooting. Wednesday's decision by the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, Hal Harrell, was announced via a written statement. Harrell acknowledged the frustration by residents who want accountability. He was waiting for the investigation to be completed, but as it dragged on, he said he had no choice but to place Arredondo on administrative leave. This comes a day after the top law enforcement officer in Texas again criticized Arredondo's actions during the shooting. Steve McCraw is head of the Texas Department of Public Safety. He testified before a state senate hearing.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
STEVE MCCRAW: The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.
KATZ: At the same time, McCraw acknowledged there were as many as 91 state Department of Public Safety officers in the area around the school building before law enforcement confronted the gunman. In a recent interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo said he did not consider himself the incident commander during the shooting. He said he waited to confront the shooter because he couldn't find a key to unlock the classroom door. McCraw now says the door was never locked.
The official timeline of the shooting has shifted many times, as law enforcement has struggled to explain with consistency who was in charge and why it took more than an hour to breach the classroom door and confront the gunman. Records related to the shooting that could potentially explain this are being kept secret.
It's unclear if Arredondo will be paid while he's on leave. He's kept a low public profile since the shooting. Arredondo has attended summer school sessions and has been sworn in as a city council member, but he hasn't attended any meetings. If he misses one more, he could be removed from that office. For NPR News, I'm Dan Katz in Uvalde.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.