Uvalde school board votes unanimously to fire police chief Pete Arredondo

UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) – The school board of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has voted to fire the district’s police chief following allegations that he made several critical errors during the mass shooting in Robb Elementary School which left 19 students and two teachers dead.

The district was going to hold a similar meeting on the fate of Arredondo on July 23 but canceled it at the request of Arredondo’s attorney who cited compliance with due process requirements. In a meeting Wednesday night, the school board voted unanimously to fire Arredondo.

Arredondo drew criticism for his leadership during the response to the Robb Elementary shooting that killed 21 people. He has been on administrative leave since June 22.

He is the first officer fired for law enforcement’s halting and clumsy response to one of the worst school shootings in US history. Only one other officer – Lt. Mariano Pargas of the Uvalde Police Department, who was the city’s acting police chief on the day of the massacre – is known to have been placed on leave for his actions during the shooting.

What led to the discussion on the dismissal of Arredondo

May 24: Arredondo held a first press conference in the hours following the massacre of students and teachers on May 24. He confirmed there had been a large number of casualties but did not give details of the police response. He spoke briefly about the family reunification process.

May 27: The Texas Department of Public Safety gave a preliminary update on what happened during the shooting. DPS director Steven McCraw said the on-scene commander, believed to be Arredondo, waited to enter the classroom where the shooter was because he believed the situation had become a “barricaded subject”.

June 9: In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo defended his actions during the shooting.

“Not a single officer ever hesitated for even a moment to put themselves in harm’s way to save the children,” Arredondo told the Texas Tribune. “We responded to the information we had and had to adapt to whatever we were facing. Our goal was to save as many lives as possible, and the extraction of students from classrooms by everyone involved saved over 500 of our students and teachers from Uvalde before we had access to the shooter and eliminated the threatens.

Arredondo told the Tribune that he never considered himself the incident commander at the scene and gave no instructions that police should not attempt to enter the building.

June 20: Parents and families affected by the mass shooting called for Arredondo’s firing at a school board meeting.

“We were disappointed in Pete Arredondo. He killed our kids, our teachers, our parents, and our town, and by keeping him on your team you continue to fail us,” Brett Cross said at that meeting. He identified himself as the father of a murdered student.

June 21st: Texas DPS has released a detailed timeline of the law enforcement response inside Robb Elementary.

The timeline shows for more than 40 minutes, Arredondo and the officers were trying to figure out how to open the doors to the classroom where the shooter was, including asking for a master key and a door opening tool.

“There is a window over there obviously. The door is probably going to be locked,” Arredondo said at 12:28 p.m., according to the Texas DPS timeline. “I will look for other keys to test.”

June 21st: Arredondo testified before a Texas House committee in a meeting that was not open to the public.

June 22: Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave.

CISD Uvalde Superintendent Hal Harrell previously said he did not want to make a decision on changes to the district’s police leadership until investigations into the mass shooting are complete. He explained that he made the call anyway due to “the remaining lack of clarity and the unknown time when [he] receive the results of the investigations.

July 2nd : Arredondo also served on the municipal council of Uvalde. In early July, he said he would step down from his post, telling the local newspaper: “I think it’s the best decision for Uvalde.”

July 12: Surveillance video from inside the school building during the shooting and the ensuing law enforcement response has been leaked. Before the video was posted online, lawmakers had planned to show the video to victims’ families first for private viewing before releasing it to the public.

July 17: A preliminary report on the shooting compiled by a Texas House investigative committee has been released. The report blamed “systemic failures and extremely poor decision-making” for the delayed response from law enforcement.

July 18: The families again lobbied for Arredondo to be fired at a school board meeting. They also called for security upgrades before the start of the new school year.

July 19: CNN reported that the Uvalde CISD school board will decide whether to end Arredondo at a special meeting on July 23.

22nd of July : The school board cancels the July 23 meeting at the request of Arredondo’s lawyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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