By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, who is also a member of the city council, missed a second council meeting on Thursday at which he was to face questions from the many critics of his response to the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers.
If Arredondo misses a third straight meeting, the council could declare his seat vacant.
This month, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw said Arredondo, onsite commander during the shooting, made “terrible decisions” and officers at the scene lacked sufficient training, costing valuable time during which lives may have been saved.
Last week, the school district placed Arredondo on administrative leave. He has said he never considered himself incident commander.
In the meeting on Thursday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said he has not been able to reach the offices of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton or of the Uvalde district attorney, with no one in either office returning his calls. McLaughlin said the Texas Department of Public Safety was withholding information about the response to the shooting by various law enforcement agencies.
Later on Thursday, watchdog American Oversight said it sued the offices of Paxton and Texas Governor Greg Abbott to make them release more information related to the school shooting and their communications with gun advocacy groups after the massacre.
Lawmakers and the public have demanded authorities provide more information about their response to the shooting. Many parents and relatives of children and staff have expressed deep anger over long delays in police action after the gunman entered Robb Elementary School and began shooting.
In the meeting on Thursday, McLaughlin and city council members also went into a private session to speak to an attorney about the various probes into the shooting.
They then took questions. Parents of victims expressed frustration at the pace of the investigation.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)