The Uvalde school district on Wednesday fired police chief Pete Arredondo in the wake of the horrific massacre at Robb Elementary School. Pressure was intense to hold officers accountable who waited outside the Texas classroom for over an hour as 19 children and two teachers were killed.
The action came on the three-month anniversary of the May 24 mass shooting.
The district’s board of trustees fired Arredondo, who was not present at the meeting, by a unanimous vote. The auditorium was filled with parents and survivors of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
Students are scheduled to return to class in less than two weeks, but many are said to be too scared to go back into a classroom.
Arredondo had been on leave from the district since June 22 and became the focal point of community anguish and anger. He was heavily criticized for not acting sooner and taking charge of the response to the attack.
State police officials also condemned his reaction. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that Arredondo was indeed in charge, which he denied.
McCraw’s office has also received criticism as it had over 90 state troopers at Robb Elementary School.
Just before the meeting, the now-former police chief released a 17-page letter defending his actions on that fateful day. It portrayed him as an officer under control whose decisions and actions saved numerous students.
The Uvalde, Texas, school board has fired Chief Pete Arredondo over the police response to the Robb Elementary shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Officers waited in a school hallway for more than an hour before confronting the gunman. https://t.co/Z7Z47urTOq
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 25, 2022
It also recounted that Arredondo warned the district in a letter the previous year about security issues at the school. His lawyers disputed the narrative that he failed at his job, calling him a “courageous officer” who was being subjected to “an unconstitutional public lynching.”
At the district meeting, one of the school children who survived the shooting, Caitlyn Gonzalez, said her message to the police chief was: “Turn in your badge and step down.”
The sad saga of Uvalde is far from over, but the firing of police chief Pete Arredondo was a move that had to happen. It’s far too soon for any so-called “healing,” but there are legitimate questions the parents and survivors have that deserve answers.