Uvalde School Board fires Police Chief Pete Arredondo after mass shooting

Uvalde CISD Fires Arredondo Police Chief

Uvalde CISD Fires Arredondo Police Chief


The police chief of the embattled Uvalde School District was fired Wednesday after allegations that he made several critical mistakes during mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers.

In a unanimous vote, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees fired Police Chief Pete Arredondo three months after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history.

– Coward! shouted parents in the Uvalde auditorium when the meeting began.

Arredondo is the first officer fired because of the indecisive and inept law enforcement response to one of the worst school shootings in US history. Only one other officer — Uvalde Police Department Lt. Mariano Pargas, 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.

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Arredondo, which was on vacation from the district since June 22, came under the most scrutiny of nearly 400 officers who rushed to the school but waited more than an hour to confront the 18-year-old gunman in a fourth-grade classroom.

Most notably, Arredondo was criticized for not ordering officers to act sooner. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Arredondo was in charge of the law enforcement response to the attack.

Arredondo was not in attendance because his career was on the line.

Instead, minutes before the Uvalde school board meeting began, Arredondo’s attorney issued a scathing 4,500-word letter that was the police chief’s most comprehensive defense of his actions to date. Over 17 pages of exposition, Arredondo is not a clueless school police chief accused by a damning state investigation of failing to take command and wasting time searching for keys to presumably unlocked doors, but a courageous officer whose smart decisions saved lives other students.

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The letter also accused Uvalde school officials of putting his life in danger by not allowing him to bring a gun to a school board meeting.

“Chief Arredondo is a leader and brave officer who, along with all other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives they saved, not shamed for those they were unable to reach in time,” Hyde wrote.

The Uvalde school administration has come under increasing pressure from victims’ families and community members, many of whom have called for Arredondo’s firing. Superintendent Hal Harrell first fired Arredondo in July, but delayed the decision at the request of the police chief’s attorney.

Among those who attended the meeting was Ruben Torres, the father of Chloe Torres, who survived the shooting in Room 112 of the school. He said that as a former Marine, he took an oath that he followed in good faith, willingly, and he doesn’t understand why officers don’t take action when leadership doesn’t follow through.

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“Now, being young, it’s hard for her to deal with this horrible event,” Torres said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which had more than 90 state troopers at the scene, also launched an internal investigation into the state police response.

The campus at Robb Elementary will no longer be used, school officials said. Instead, campuses elsewhere in Uvalde will serve as temporary classrooms for elementary school students, not all of whom want to return to school in person after the shooting.

The school administration says a virtual academy will be offered for students. The district has not said how many students will attend virtually, but a new state law passed in Texas last year in the wake of the pandemic limits the number of students eligible for distance learning to “10% of all enrolled students in a given school system.”

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According to Melissa Holmes, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, schools can request a waiver to exceed the limit, but Uvalde did not.

According to the school district, new measures to improve school security in Uvalde include an “8-foot non-scalable perimeter fence” on the elementary, middle and high school campuses. Officials say they have also installed additional security cameras, upgraded locks, improved training for district employees and improved communications.

However, according to the district’s own progress reports, as of Tuesday, fencing had not been erected at six of the eight campuses where it was planned, and cameras had been installed only at the high school. Some progress has been made on lockdowns at three of the eight campuses, and communication improvements have been noted as halfway complete for each campus.

Uvalde CISD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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