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Uvalde school police chief sworn into council in secret amid criticism over shooting response

May 24, 2022; Uvalde, TX, USA; Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo speaks at a press conference following the shooting at
Mikala Compton/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co
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Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo speaks at a press conference following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

The embattled police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, who is under intense scrutiny for his response to last week’s mass shooting, was sworn in as a member of the town’s city council Tuesday in a closed-door ceremony, the mayor said.

UCISD Police chief Pete Arredondo and two other members took their oath of office after a previously planned meeting was canceled in the aftermath of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School.

“Uvalde City Council members were sworn in today as per the city charter,” Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days, no ceremony was held.”

Arredondo led the initial response to the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two schoolteachers. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said last week that the decision by the incident commander not to engage the shooter — but instead wait for backup and tactical gear — was the “wrong decision”. Authorities said it was believed the gunman had barricaded himself inside the classroom and that children were no longer at risk.

“The on-scene commander at the time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” said Texas DPS director Steve McCraw. “Obviously, based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk, and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject.”

Texas DPS spokesperson Ericka Miller told The Texas Newsroom Arredondo has not yet responded to the Texas Ranger's request for a follow up interview.

The Department of Justice said last weekend that it would investigate the response to the shooting “to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day,” according to a statement.

On Monday, Mclaughlin said there was nothing in current city policy that would prevent Arredondo from taking his new position on the council.

“There is nothing in the City Charter, Election Code, or Texas Constitution that prohibits him from taking the oath of office,” McLaughlin said in a statement, adding “To our knowledge, we are currently not aware of any investigation of Mr. Arredondo.”

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Julián Aguilar | The Texas Newsroom