(NEW YORK) — Eight years before Uvalde school Police Chief Pete Arredondo led the controversial law enforcement response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, he was demoted from a high-ranking position at the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, according to reporting by a local news outlet Thursday.
Arredondo “couldn’t get along with people,” Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar told the San Antonio Express-News, according to the report. Cuellar also said that he demoted Arredondo from assistant chief to commander in 2014.
“He just didn’t fit the qualifications or the work that I set out for him,” Cuellar said, according to the report.
Arredondo has come under immense scrutiny for his role in the police response to the May 24 massacre, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. Police waited 77 minutes after arriving at the school to breach the door to the classroom containing the 18-year-old gunman.
A special committee in the Texas legislature issued a report last month that found Arredondo had “failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander.”
Uvalde:365 is a continuing ABC News series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it forges on in the shadow of tragedy.
Arredondo previously told the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the on-scene commander during the shooting.
According to documents first reported by the San Antonio Express-News and obtained by ABC News, Arredondo, while working for Webb County, was “reassigned from Assistant Chief to Commander” in October 2014, and that two days earlier, a Webb County employee had written “demotion” on his payroll worksheet.
Arredondo left the Webb County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 and took a role in Laredo as a school district police captain, where he stayed for three years. In 2020, when he applied for the role of police chief in Uvalde’s school district, Arredondo highlighted his role in a hostage negotiation during his time in Webb County.
Cuellar, the Webb County sheriff who demoted Arredondo in 2014, told the San Antonio Express-News that Arredondo “exaggerated a little bit” his role in the hostage negotiations he mentioned in his application to Uvalde.
“It wasn’t him completely. I think he exaggerated a little bit,” Cuellar was quoted telling the newspaper, adding that it was a team effort.
Arredondo was appointed police chief of the Uvalde Independent School District in February 2020.
Neither Arredondo or Cuellar, or officials with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, immediately responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.
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