On Wednesday, a Uvalde school district police chief was terminated amid allegations that he made several critical errors during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board of trustees terminated Pete Arredondo in front of parents and the May 24 massacre survivors in a unanimous decision that came after months of angry requests for his dismissal.
After the vote, there was applause from the audience, and some parents were left in tears.
Parents shouted “Coward!” when the gathering began in a Uvalde auditorium.
Among the nearly 400 officers who rushed into the school, Arredondo, who has been on leave since June 22, has faced the most intense scrutiny.
Arredondo received the most criticism for not directing police to take action sooner. According to Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, he was in command of the law enforcement response to the incident.
Just before the Uvalde school board meeting started, Arredondo’s lawyer released a scathing 4,500-word statement that served as the police chief’s most comprehensive justification of his actions.
Throughout 17 defiant pages, Arredondo is revealed to be a brave officer whose clear choices saved the lives of other students.
A year before the incident, Arrendondo allegedly informed the district about several security concerns in the schools while claiming he wasn’t in command of the scene. The letter claimed that by forbidding him from bringing a weapon to the school board meeting, Uvalde school officials were endangering his safety due to “legitimate risks of harm to the public and to Chief Arredondo.”
“Chief Arredondo is a leader and a courageous officer who, with all of the other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives saved, instead of vilified for those they couldn’t reach in time,” Hyde wrote.
The victim’s family and community members have been placing more pressure on Uvalde school officials to terminate Arredondo. Arredondo was initially targeted for termination by Superintendent Hal Harrell in July, but the decision was delayed at the request of the police chief’s legal counsel.
Ruben Torres, the father of Chloe Torres, who survived the shooting, attended the gathering. As a former Marine, he asserted that he took an oath, which he freely carried out, and that he did not understand why officers did not intervene when leadership was ineffective.
“Right now, being young, she is having a hard time handling this horrific event,” Torres said.
In response to the May 24 tragedy, Arredondo is the first law enforcement officer to be dismissed.
Lt. Mariano Pargas of the Uvalde Police Department was the only other officer placed on leave for his actions during the shooting.
More than 90 state troopers were at the scene, and the Texas Department of Public Safety has launched an internal investigation into the response.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated earlier this month that the state Department of Public Safety would send at least 30 more law enforcement officers to the campuses of Uvalde public schools.
“We must ensure students, parents, and all dedicated school personnel can look forward to new opportunities to learn and grow,” Abbott said. “Texas will keep working to provide all available support and resources to the Uvalde community as they continue to heal.”
According to school officials, Robb Elementary will no longer be in operation. Temporary classrooms will be provided on other campuses in Uvalde and a virtual academy.