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Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo resigns from City Council seat

Arredondo has been on administrative leave from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District since June 22.

Embattled Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo has resigned from his seat in the Uvalde City Council, roughly a month after being sworn in to the position.

The Uvalde Leader-News was the first to report on Arredondo’s resignation plans early Saturday afternoon.

Uvalde city leaders said they received his official letter of resignation late Saturday afternoon after learning the news from the local paper.

"After much consideration, it is in the best interest of the community to step down as a member of the City Council for District 3 to minimize further distractions," Arredondo said in his letter. "The Mayor, the City Council, and the City Staff must continue to move forward to unite our community, once again."

The news of his resignation comes after Arredondo became the central figure in a series of tactical mistakes, including the decision to avoid confronting an 18-year-old gunman, in responding to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead on May 24.

NBC News has reached out to Arredondo’s attorney, but has not heard back.

Arredondo was elected to represent District 3 in the Uvalde City Council on May 7 and officially sworn in a week after the school shooting.

He is stepping down from the city council about a week after the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed him on administrative leave on June 22.

Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde school system, had said in a statement he was waiting on investigations into the mass shootings to be completed when Arredondo was placed on leave.

“Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies,” he said. “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.”

Lt. Mike Hernandez took over duties of chief, Harrell said.

State authorities have described Arredondo as the incident commander during the school carnage. Arredondo has said he did not consider himself to be the officer in charge.

Officials have said Arredondo incorrectly treated the gunman as a barricaded suspect instead of an active shooter. After more than an hour, federal agents entered the room and fatally shot the gunman.

Federal and state agencies are investigating the police response.

City, state and federal law enforcement officers were also present on the campus. A SWAT-like team of agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection eventually entered the classroom and killed the gunman.

Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steve McCraw on June 21 described police actions as an “abject failure” during a senate committee hearing.

“We do know this, 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,” he told lawmakers in Austin.

During the hearing, McCraw said the classroom where the shooter was holed up was unlocked. It was widely reported after the shooting that police were kept from breaking into the classrooms and were looking for keys because the doors were locked.

One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds passed from the time police entered the building until the gunman was killed, according to McCraw and a released timeline.

“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said. “The officers have weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none. The officers had training. The subject had none.”

Law enforcement officers and at least one ballistic shield were in the school about 19 minutes after the gunman entered classrooms, according to McCraw and the timeline.

Arredondo has generally avoided the media since the bloodshed on the Uvalde campus. But he told The Texas Tribune in June that officers never “hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk.”

Arredondo, who took over as police chief for the school district in 2020, also told The Tribune he considered himself a front-line responder — not the person managing the broader response.

“I didn’t issue any orders,” he told The Tribune. “I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”

According to The Tribune, once Arredondo determined he could not enter the classroom with the gunman inside, he dialed police dispatch from his cellphone and asked for a tactical unit, snipers and an extrication tool to open the door.

“It’s not that someone said stand down,” Arredondo’s lawyer, George Hyde, told The Tribune. “It was, ‘Right now, we can’t get in until we get the tools. So we’re going to do what we can do to save lives.’ And what was that? It was to evacuate the students and the parents and the teachers out of the rooms.”

Arredondo was elected to the Uvalde City Council on May 7, and he was sworn in during a private ceremony May 31, a week after the shooting. There was supposed to be a council meeting that day, but it was canceled because of the shooting.

When the council reconvened for a special emergency meeting a week later, on June 7, he failed to show up.

Arredondo also did not attend a meeting on June 21 at which the council unanimously declined to grant his request for a leave of absence from future council meetings.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said during the same council meeting Robb would be demolished because, "You can never ask a child to go back or a teacher to go back in that school ever."

CORRECTION (July 18, 2022, 9 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Pete Arredondo’s title. He is the Uvalde school district police chief, not the Texas police chief.