Uvalde school district's insurance paying legal fees of lawsuits

Former school police chief Pete Arredondo is having his legal fees paid.

April 14, 2023, 9:50 PM

Lawyers representing former Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo in multiple lawsuits stemming from the massacre last year at a Texas elementary school are being paid by the Uvalde school district's insurance carrier, the district confirmed Friday.

"We are not writing checks for his legal fees, but our insurance coverage is paying," interim schools Superintendent Gary Patterson told ABC News.

Patterson said he could not say how much the fees have run so far.

Mandy Gutierrez, who was principal when a gunman stormed Robb Elementary school on May 24, 2022, has also been awarded money from the insurance company for legal fees, Patterson said. Like Arredondo, Gutierrez is the defendant in a series of lawsuits stemming from the rampage. Nineteen students and two of their teachers were killed in the shooting.

PHOTO: Texas Department of Safety Troopers stand by for a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, Aug. 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
Texas Department of Safety Troopers stand by for a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, Aug. 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP, FILE

The payments were first reported by the San Antonio Express-News.

Arredondo was fired last August after investigators found that he failed to properly lead police in responding to the active shooter situation as it unfolded at Robb. He has offered varying explanations about what happened and said he was being made a scapegoat. Arredondo's conduct that day is being investigated and the local district attorney plans to have a grand jury review the events of May 24 to determine if anyone could be charged criminally. The gunman was killed when police, after more than an hour, stormed the classroom where he was holed up.

Despite the criticism of Arredondo, the superintendent said the district's insurance carrier had no choice but to cover the former chief's legal fees.

"He has not been charged with any crimes that I'm aware of," said Patterson. "There was no reason, from the insurance perspective, not to provide him coverage."

The claims awarded to Arredondo and Gutierrez will not affect the insurance rates paid by the district, Patterson said.

Neither Gutierrez or Arredondo - nor their lawyers - responded to requests from ABC News for comment.

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