July 16th, 2024

Former Uvalde school police chief and officer indicted over Robb Elementary response, reports say

By Jim Vertuno, The Associated Press on June 27, 2024.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The former Uvalde schools police chief and another former officer have been indicted over their role in the slow police response to the 2022 massacre at a Texas elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead, according to multiple reports Thursday.

The Uvalde Leader-News and the San Antonio Express-News reported former schools police Chief Pete Arredondo and former officer Adrian Gonzales were indicted by a grand jury on multiple counts of felony child endangerment and abandonment. The Uvalde Leader-News reported that District Attorney Christina Mitchell confirmed the indictment.

The Austin American-Statesman also reported two former officers had been indicted but did not identify them.

Mitchell did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. Several family members of victims of the shooting did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The indictments would make Arredondo, who was the on-site commander during the attack, and Gonzales the first officers to face criminal charges in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. A scathing report by Texas lawmakers that examined the police response described Gonzales as one of the first officers to enter the building after the shooting began.

The indictments were kept under seal until the men were in custody, and both were expected to turn themselves in by Friday, the news outlets reported.

The indictments come more than two years after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in a fourth grade classroom, where he remained for more than 70 minutes before officers confronted and killed him. In total, 376 law enforcement officers massed at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, some waiting in the hallway outside the classroom, even as the gunman could be heard firing an AR-15-style rifle inside.

The office of a former attorney for Arredondo said they did not know whether the former chief has new representation. The AP could not immediately find a phone number to reach Gonzales.

Arredondo lost his job three months later. Several officers involved were eventually fired, and separate investigations by the Department of Justice and state lawmakers faulted law enforcement with botching their response to the massacre. A 600-page Justice Department report released in January that catalogued “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership and technology problems that day.

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