Former Uvalde Police Chief Indicted For Botched Shooting Response

June 29, 2024

Former Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo has been indicted by a grand jury for his handling of the response to the tragic 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting.

This indictment, along with charges against former district officer Adrian Gonzales, represents the first criminal charges against law enforcement for their actions during the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

The grand jury in Uvalde County charged Arredondo and Gonzales with felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

The charges come more than two years after the horrific incident on May 24, 2022, when a lone gunman killed 19 fourth graders and two teachers in a brutal attack.

The response by law enforcement on that day has been widely condemned. Nearly 400 officers from federal, state, and local agencies were present, yet it took 77 minutes for them to confront the shooter. The gunman was eventually shot and killed by Border Patrol officers.

This delayed response has been scrutinized in numerous reports, including a January U.S. Justice Department report which highlighted significant leadership failures and suggested that lives could have been saved if officers had acted more swiftly.

In the months following the shooting, several officers were either fired, suspended, or chose to retire.

Arredondo was fired approximately three months after the shooting. His role as the incident commander, according to the school district’s active shooter response plan, placed him at the center of the investigation.

Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell convened the grand jury in January to investigate the law enforcement response and decide whether criminal charges should be brought against any of the officers involved. The grand jury’s proceedings are secret, leaving it unclear if more indictments will follow.

Chris McNutt, president of Texas Gun Rights, applauded the indictment, saying, “This is a crucial step toward accountability. The catastrophic failure in Uvalde cost innocent lives, and those responsible must face justice.”

Families of the victims have been demanding accountability since the tragedy. Jesse Rizo, whose niece Jacklyn Cazares was killed, expressed hope that this indictment would lead to more officers being held accountable.

“I’m really hoping this is just the beginning of indictments that may be coming down,” Rizo said. “There are a lot of officers that need to be held accountable.”

Prosecuting police officers is challenging due to their significant legal protections. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that officers do not have a constitutional “duty to protect,” complicating efforts to hold them criminally responsible for inaction.

The grand jury indictment is one of several investigations initiated after the shooting. These probes have often left victims’ families frustrated with the pace and transparency of the process.

Recently, an independent review cleared local officers of wrongdoing, further aggravating the families of the victims. Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez, who was on vacation during the shooting, resigned shortly after the review was released.

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