Former Uvalde, Texas, school police chief indicted over deadly shooting

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announces review of May 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School

By Brad Brooks and Jasper Ward

(Reuters) -A grand jury in Uvalde, Texas, indicted former school district police chief Pedro Arredondo over the police response to the 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 students and two teachers, authorities said on Thursday.

The Uvalde County Sheriff's office said Arredondo was in custody and was being booked on 10 counts of child endangerment.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been criticized for failures in the response to the shooting on May 24, 2022. Officers left the 18-year-old gunman alone inside a classroom with children for more than an hour while weighing how to confront him. By the time officers stormed in, the school had become the scene of one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history.

Another law enforcement officer, Adrian Gonzales, was also indicted by the grand jury, according to local media reports. The sheriff's department on Thursday said Gonzales had not yet been booked, and said they could provide no details on his situation.

The charges against Arredondo, who goes by the first name "Pete," and Gonzales are the first criminal complaints lodged against any responding officers.

The Uvalde County district attorney, Christina Mitchell, did not immediately return requests for comment.

Mitchell confirmed to the Uvalde Leader-News newspaper that both Arredondo and Gonzales were indicted. She told the paper that more details would be provided once Gonzales is booked, which she said would take place on Friday.

Federal and state investigations into the school shooting condemned the responding officers' inaction.

In May, the families of the victims filed lawsuits against Meta, Activision Blizzard and its parent Microsoft, along with gunmaker Daniel Defense, for what they claim was collusion in marketing weapons to young people.

In an advisory earlier this week declaring gun violence in the country a public health crisis, the U.S. surgeon general noted it has been the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the country since 2020. He also noted that the firearm mortality rate among youths in the U.S. is 11 times higher than in France, 36 times higher than in Germany and 121 times higher than in Japan.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward and Brad Brooks; editing by Donna Bryson, Eric Beech and Leslie Adler)