Embattled Texas Police Chief Pete Arredondo has resigned from his Uvalde City Council seat about a month after being sworn in to the position.
Uvalde Leader-News was the first to report Arredondo’s retirement plans early Saturday afternoon.
Uvalde town leaders said they received his official letter of resignation late Saturday afternoon after hearing the news from the local newspaper.
“After careful consideration, it is in the best interest of the community to step down as a member of the District 3 City Council to minimize further distractions,” Arredondo said in his letter. “The mayor, city council and city employees must continue to move forward to reunite our community.”
News of his retirement comes after Arredondo became the central figure in a series of tactical blunders, including a decision to avoid confronting an 18-year-old gunman in response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which killed 19 children and two Teacher left dead on May 24th.
NBC News has reached out to Arredondo’s attorney but has received no response.
Arredondo was elected District 3 representative on Uvalde City Council on May 7 and was 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, said in a statement he was waiting for the investigation into the mass shootings to be completed when Arredondo was placed on leave.
“Today, I still don’t have details of the investigations that are being conducted by various agencies,” he said. “Due to the remaining uncertainty and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigation, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective as of that date.”
Lt. Mike Hernandez took over as chief, Harrell said.
State authorities have described Arredondo as the incident commander during the school massacre. Arredondo said he does not consider himself the officer in charge.
Officials said Arredondo incorrectly treated the gunman as a barricaded suspect instead of an active gunman. After more than an hour, federal agents entered the room and fatally shot the gunman.
Federal and state authorities are investigating the police response.
City, state, and federal police officers were also present on campus. A SWAT-like team of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents eventually entered the classroom and killed the gunman.
Col. Steve McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety on June 21 described police actions during a Senate committee hearing as a “pathetic failure.”
“We know this, there is compelling evidence that law enforcement’s response to the attack on Robb Elementary was a pathetic mistake and contrary to everything we have learned in the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he said he to the legislature in Austin.
During the hearing, McCraw said the classroom where the shooter was hiding was unlocked. After the shooting, it was widely reported that police were prevented from entering the classrooms looking for keys because the doors were locked.
According to McCraw and a published schedule, it took an hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds from the time police entered the building to the time the gunman was killed.
“The only thing stopping a corridor of dedicated officers from rooms 111 and 112 was the on-site commander, who decided to put the officers’ lives ahead of the children’s lives,” he said. “The officers have guns. The kids didn’t have any. The officers wore body armor. The kids didn’t have any. The officers had training. The subject had none.”
According to McCraw and the schedule, law enforcement officers and at least one ballistic shield were at the school about 19 minutes after the shooter entered the classrooms.
Since the bloodshed on the Uvalde campus, Arredondo has generally avoided the media. But he told the Texas Tribune in June that officers never “didn’t hesitate for even a moment to put themselves at risk.”
Arredondo, who took over as school district police chief in 2020, told The Tribune he considers himself a frontline responder — not the person managing the broader response.
“I gave no orders,” he told the Tribune. “I called for help and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”
According to The Tribune, when Arredondo found he couldn’t enter the classroom with the gunman inside, he dialed the police station from his cell phone and asked for a tactical unit, snipers and an extrication tool to open the door.
“It’s not like anyone said resign,” Arredondo’s lawyer, George Hyde, told The Tribune. “It was like, ‘Right now we can’t go in until we have the tools. So we will do what we can to save lives.” And what was that? It should evacuate the students and the parents and the teachers from the rooms.”
Arredondo was elected to Uvalde City Council on May 7 and was sworn in in a private ceremony on May 31, a week after the shooting. A council meeting was supposed to be held that day, but was canceled because of the shooting.
When the council met for a special session a week later, on June 7, he did not show up.
Arredondo also did not attend a June 21 meeting where 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 that Robb would be torn down because “you can never ask a kid to go back or a teacher to ever go to that school again.”
Irene Byon and Anthony Cusumano contributed.