Uvalde school board votes unanimously to fire Police Chief Pete Arredondo
UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District school board has voted to fire the district’s police chief following allegations that he made several critical mistakes during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
The district was going to hold a similar meeting on Arredondo’s fate on July 23 but canceled it at the request of Arredondo’s attorney who cited conformity with due process requirements. During a meeting Wednesday night, the school board voted unanimously to fire Arredondo.
Arredondo has drawn criticism for his leadership during the response to the Robb Elementary shooting that killed 21 people. He has been on administrative leave since June 22.
He is the first officer dismissed over the hesitant and fumbling law enforcement response to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. Only one other officer — Uvalde Police Department Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the city’s acting police chief on the day of massacre — is known to have been placed on leave for their actions during the shooting.
What led to the discussion of Arredondo’s firing
May 24: Arredondo held an initial news conference in the hours following the mass killing of students and teachers on May 24. He confirmed there was a mass casualty but did not give specifics on police response. He briefly spoke about the family reunification process.
May 27: The Texas Department of Public Safety gave a preliminary update on what happened during the shooting. DPS Director Steven McCraw said the on-scene commander, considered to be Arredondo, waited to breach the classroom where the shooter was located, because he believed the situation had transitioned to a “barricaded subject.”
June 9: In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Arredondo defended his actions during the shooting.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo told the Texas Tribune. “We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat.”
Arredondo told the Tribune he never considered himself the scene’s incident commander and did not give any instruction that police shouldn’t attempt to breach the building.
June 20: Parents and families affected by the mass shooting called for Arredondo to be fired during a school board meeting.
“We were failed by Pete Arredondo. He killed our kids, teachers, parents and city, and by keeping him on your staff, y’all are continuing to fail us,” said Brett Cross at that meeting. He identified himself as the father of a murdered student.
June 21: Texas DPS released an in-depth timeline of the law enforcement response inside Robb Elementary.
The timeline shows for more than 40 minutes, Arredondo and officers were trying to figure out how to open the doors to the classroom where the gunman was located, including asking for a master key and door-breaching tool.
“There’s a window over there obviously. The door is probably going to be locked,” said Arredondo at 12:28 p.m., according to the Texas DPS timeline. “I am going to get some more keys to test.”
June 21: Arredondo testified in front of a Texas House committee in a meeting that wasn’t open to the public.
June 22: Arredondo was placed on administrative leave.
Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell said previously he didn’t want to make a decision on changes to the district’s police leadership until investigations into the mass shooting were completed. He explained he made the call anyway due to “the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when [he] will receive the results of the investigations.”
July 2: Arredondo also served on the Uvalde City Council. In early July, he said he would resign from the role, telling the local paper, “I feel this is the best decision for Uvalde.”
July 12: Surveillance video from inside the school building during the shooting and subsequent law enforcement response was leaked. Prior to the video being published online, lawmakers had planned to show the video to the families of the victims first in a private viewing before releasing it to the public.
July 17: A preliminary report on the shooting compiled by a Texas House investigative committee was released. The report blamed “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” for the delayed law enforcement response.
July 18: Families pushed again for Arredondo to be fired during a school board meeting. They also called for security upgrades before the new school year starts.
July 19: CNN reported the Uvalde CISD school board was going to decide whether to terminate Arredondo in a special meeting July 23.
July 22: School board cancels July 23 meeting at the request of Arredondo’s attorney.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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