Arredondo resigns from Uvalde City Council

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Less than two months ago, everything seemed to be looking up for Pete Arredondo. He had climbed through the ranks of the Uvalde Schools Police Department to become Chief of Police. Then, on May 7th, he won a seat on the City Council. Local news outlets speculated that he might have his eye on the Mayor’s office. Then on May 24th, the slaughter at the school took place. After the many inaccuracies in the initial story we were told were made public, Arredondo went from potentially being a leader n the midst of a crisis to being viewed by the entire nation as an incompetent liar at best, if not a villain. And now he has resigned from his new position on the council barely a month after being sworn in. Arredondo and his attorney continue to decline requests for comment from the national media. (Associated Press)

The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Chief Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News on Friday that he has decided to step down for the good of the city administration. He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and was sworn in — in a closed-door ceremony — on May 31, just a week after the massacre.

“After much consideration, I regret to inform those who voted for me that I have decided to step down as a member of the city council for District 3. The mayor, the city council, and the city staff must continue to move forward without distractions. I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo’s only contact with reporters lately seems to have been with the local paper, the Leader-News. His original swearing-in date for his new position on the City Council was postponed amid the flurry of investigations and accusations following the botched response to the mass shooting. He was finally sworn in on May 31, but it was a closed-door ceremony without the public or the press being invited.

I’m struggling to come up with a guess as to why Arredondo even took his seat to begin with. Did he really think that the entire school shooting story was just going to fade into the background and everything would go back to “normal” for him? In his resignation statement, he suggested that his presence on the board would create “distractions” for the rest of the municipal government. That’s probably an understatement.

I’d like to find room to show some sympathy for Pete Arredondo in this situation, even though it’s difficult to do. He spent many years working in service to the public. But the attempt to cover up what actually happened after the shooting began really paints him in a poor light.

This morning I was imagining how Arredondo’s life might have been transformed in a very different direction if things had played out differently. Picture a situation where the shooter was approaching the school and the Chief had immediately shown up and led the charge into the building after him. What would have happened if Arredondo had quickly grabbed the handle of the classroom door, found it unlocked, drew his weapon, and charged in firing at the madman?

Even if he died in the effort, one of the other officers behind him would have taken the shooter out and he would have been memorialized for as long as the town continues to exist. If he had survived the assault and saved dozens of lives, he would be carried around town on the shoulders of the parents and hailed as a hero. Forget a seat on the City Council. The residents of Uvalde probably would have tried to name him King.

But now the only thing anyone will associate with Pete Arredondo’s name is the photo of the officers with their rifles and shields standing around in the school hallway for an excruciating hour while nearly two dozen people, mostly children, were being slaughtered on the other side of the door. I don’t believe there will be any charges filed against him because you don’t typically arrest people for doing poorly at their job. But I somehow doubt we’ll be reading about the Pete Arredondo comeback story any time soon.