Pete Arredondo, the former school police chief criticized for deadly delays in the response to last week’s school massacre, was officially sworn in as a City Council member Tuesday, the office of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced, while earlier in the day state law enforcement officials said he has failed to respond to their interview requests in the investigation of the school shooting.
The mayor had initially postponed the swearing-in ceremony out of respect for the victims’ families, according to NBC News, but instead held it without the public ceremony. Arredondo was elected to the Uvalde City Council earlier this year.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said Arredondo has not responded to requests from Texas Rangers for a follow-up interview in their investigation of the delayed police response at Robb Elementary School on May 24, according to multiple reports.
Arredondo disputed that claim Wednesday, however, telling CNN: “I am in contact with DPS everyday.”
“The chief of the Uvalde [Consolidated Independent School District] Police provided an initial interview but has not responded to a request for a follow-up interview with the Texas Rangers that was made two days ago,” the DPS said in a statement to the Tribune.
The Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde school district police are still cooperating with the state investigation, according to the statement.
Officers from the police department and the school police force have been interviewed by the state police since Friday, according to New York Times reporter J. David Goodman, who spoke to a DPS spokesperson.
“There have been interviews with both departments since Friday,” the spokesperson told the Times.
The reports of Arredondo’s absence came days after Public Safety Director Steven McCraw held a news conference on Friday and admitted that responding officers made a “wrong decision” when they delayed entering the fourth-grade classroom to stop the 18-year-old gunman, who killed 19 students and two teachers inside the school.
McCraw also told reporters on Friday that the scene commander leading the response to the shooting chose to wait because they wrongly believed the gunman was barricaded behind a locked door and was no longer a risk to the children.
In the hour he was locked in with the students, the gunman opened fire on the classroom.
“With the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, there was no excuse for that,” McCraw said.
The scene commander was later identified as Arredondo.
As the investigation into the police response continues, Uvalde law enforcement officials have offered varying explanations for what transpired during the response to the shooting by police officers and other law enforcement officers.
Though McCraw said that officers on the scene of the shooting believed the gunman no longer posed a risk, DPS spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez told CNN on Friday that officers were reluctant to confront the gunman because “they could’ve been shot.” Olivarez also said that they were waiting for a tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol to confront the shooter.
Furthermore, initial reports that a teacher had propped open an exterior door at the school, which the gunman entered, were proved false.
Investigators announced Tuesday that they have determined a teacher removed the rock and closed the propped-open exterior door once she learned there was a shooter arriving at the school. Still, the door didn’t lock, as Travis Considine, chief communications officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told The Associated Press.
“She came back out while on her phone, she heard someone yell, ‘He has a gun!’, she saw him jump the fence and that he had a gun, so she ran back inside,” removing the rock when she did, Considine told AP.
“We did verify she closed the door. The door did not lock,” Considine added. “We know that much, and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock.”