Pete Arredondo, Chief of Police at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department, has been placed on administrative leave nearly one month after a gunman marched onto campus and took the lives of 19 innocent children and two teachers.
Arredondo was one of the first officers to respond to the scene, according to The New York Times.
“From the beginning of this horrible event, I shared that the district would wait until the investigation was complete before making personnel decisions,” a news release from Dr. Hal Harrell, Superintendent, read on Wednesday.
“Today, I am still without details of the investigations being conducted by various agencies,” continued Dr. Harrell. “Because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations, I have made the decision to place Chief Arredondo on administrative leave effective on this date.”
Concluded Dr. Harrell: “Lieutenant Mike Hernandez will assume the duties of the UCISD Chief of Police. We will continue to seek qualified candidates to join our police department as we prepare for the new school year.”
It is unclear whether Arredondo has been placed on paid or unpaid leave.
PEOPLE has reached out to UCISD for additional comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Days after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw told reporters that it was the “wrong decision” to wait before breaching the classroom doors.
“There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done, with one exception, is that the incident commander inside believed he needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that time,” said McCraw.
Not all officers agreed with Arredondo’s decision, though. One of the officers who was standing outside the school said that he and his colleagues discussed whether to go into the school anyway.
“There was almost a mutiny,” the officer told PEOPLE last month. “We were like, ‘There’s a f—ing gunman in the school, we hear gunshots, and we’re just going to stand here with our thumbs up our asses?’ We wanted to go in and save lives. It was the most frustrating situation of my entire career.”
Arredondo defended his decision to delay confronting the gunman, telling The Texas Tribune earlier this month that he did not consider himself to be the commanding officer on the scene that day.
RELATED VIDEO: Uvalde Officers Could Have Stopped Gunman ‘Within 3 Minutes’ If Commander Hadn’t Hesitated
In phone interviews and statements provided to the Tribune through his lawyer, Arredondo said that he never told any officers to stand down from breaching the building and that no one told him about the 911 calls that came in during the 77 minutes before the gunman was shot.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo told the publication. “We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced.”
“We were looking to him for guidance,” one of Arredondo’s subordinate officers told PEOPLE immediately after the incident. “We wanted him to tell us what to do. He was the chief. He knew the school building better than anyone. So he knew we were all looking to him for decisions. I was literally five feet away from him as we asked what we should do.”
According to the San Antonio News Express, surveillance footage seems to indicate that neither Arredondo nor any other officer ever attempted to open the doors where the gunman held two classrooms full of children — and that one of the doors may have been unlocked the whole time.
PEOPLE has reached out to Arredondo’s attorney for further comment.
The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the “Robb School Memorial Fund”) or donate money through Zelle to email@example.com. People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.