Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired Wednesday after months of criticism over law enforcement’s inaction to stop the mass shooter who killed 19 kids and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
The decision to dismiss Arredondo was made in an unanimous vote by the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board.
The news of his ouster brought cheers from victims’ families and survivors waiting for the board decision in an auditorium.
Arredondo, who did not attend his termination hearing, is the first officer canned over the flawed police response to the May 24 massacre. Uvalde school officials have faced mounting pressure from victims’ families and community members to fire him.
His attorney called the termination hearing an “illegal and unconstitutional public lynching” in a 17-page statement released earlier Wednesday.
Arredondo, 50, has been chastised for failing to order officers to act sooner the day an 18-year-old shooter carried out the horrific attack.
Officers waited for more than an hour to engage the shooter and tend to injured victims who later died at or on the way to hospitals.
Arredondo, who has been on unpaid leave since June 22, has disputed being the person at the helm of the more than 400 local, state and federal officers who responded to the shooting. However a report released by state lawmakers said he was in fact the person in charge.
“The Uvalde CISD’s written active shooter plan directed its police chief to assume command and control of the response to an active shooter,” the report stated. “The chief of police … failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander. This was an essential duty he had assigned to himself in the plan mentioned above.”
“The 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,” the report continued.
A special tactical team eventually entered the classroom where the victims were shot and took out the gunman, Salvador Ramos.
Arredondo demanded the school board to immediately reinstate him with backpay and benefits in the statement from his legal team. His lawyers attempted to paint him as a brave officer who made level-headed decisions that saved the lives of other students during what was one of the country’s deadliest school shootings.
They added that Arredondo did not feel safe attending the hearing after receiving previous death threats and denounced school officials for not allowing him to carry a weapon to the hearing, citing “legitimate risks of harm” to the public and himself.
Parents and family members of the 19 fourth-graders who were killed in the shooting called Arredondo a coward during the hearing and said he was disrespectful for not showing up.
The families, who wore orange shirts with “The unheard voices march & rally” and the number 21 written across them, called on the board to fire him and shared memories of the victims during the hearing.
The board meeting was held on the three-month anniversary of the elementary school massacre. At the start, attendees held a moment of silence for 21 seconds to honor each of the victims killed in the shooting.
Arredondo, who grew up in Uvalde, stepped down from his position on the Uvalde City Council earlier this year.
Only one other officer who responded to the Robb Elementary School shooting has faced disciplinary action. Uvalde Police Department Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the city’s acting police chief on the day of the massacre, has been placed on leave.
With Post wires
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