Exactly three months after the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the school board agreed on Wednesday to fire Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief.
“Nearly 400 local, state and federal law enforcement officers waited more than an hour to confront the 18-year-old gunman after he entered the school,” the Tribune reported.
With the controversy and criticism of the response, Arredondo was placed on leave in June, the Tribune reported.
In July, a Texas House committee released a report that outlined that the responding officers lacked communication and urgency in their response and that “[t]he void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon.”
But despite the widespread criticism of the response, Arredondo made a request, through his attorney, to be reinstated.
The vote to fire him is what followed.
“Chief Arredondo will not participate in his own illegal and unconstitutional public lynching and respectfully requests the Board immediately reinstate him, with all backpay and benefits and close the complaint as unfounded,” Arredondo’s attorney, George E. Hyde wrote in a statement.
The statement also claimed that the school district had violated Arredondo’s constitutional process by failing to give him notice of the complaints against him and then conduct an investigation of his response to the mass shooting before the termination hearing.
Should there be more Uvalde police officers fired over the shooting?
Yes: 86% (18 Votes)
No: 14% (3 Votes)
Arredondo did not attend the school board meeting, due to alleged death threats. He furthermore criticized school officials for not allowing him to carry a weapon to the hearing, citing “legitimate risks of harm” to the public and himself, the New York Post reported.
However, many relatives of victims were present for the vote concerning Arredondo’s future.
Some chanted “coward” and “no justice, no peace,” according to the Tribune.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell recommended that Arredondo be fired “for good cause.”
Arredondo’s attorney, Hyde, also asked the school officials to read a statement on Arredondo’s behalf at the meeting, but they did not.
Four people spoke in a public comment period at the meeting, and then the seven school board members held a closed session to discuss Arredondo’s employment.
Once the board members went into their closed session, Brett Cross, whose son Uziyah Garcia was a victim, said “I hope they do right by us,” according to the Tribune.
The meeting stirred up other discussions, as well, about handling law enforcement’s response to the shooting.
Vicente Salazar, whose granddaughter Layla Salazar was also killed during the shooting, told others at the Wednesday meeting that the Uvalde County sheriff should be fired, too.
“We need to take Uvalde back for our people,” he said, the Tribune reported.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, was also at the school board meeting.
Prior to the school board’s vote, he said, “It’s 90 days too long to do the right thing.”
Gutierrez likewise pushed for other law enforcement agencies who failed in the response to be held accountable.
“I encourage you to keep fighting,” Gutierrez said to the residents present at the meeting.