Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, was fired on Wednesday after multiple investigations into the failures of law enforcement during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary and months of outrage from the community.
Wednesday was the three-month anniversary of one of the worst school shootings in US history, which left 19 students and two teachers dead. Since then, the law enforcement response has been described as an "abject failure," and surveillance footage has shown how officers waited 77 minutes in a school hallway to confront the shooter, who was in an unlocked classroom. As the chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District's police department, Arredondo was supposed to take the role of incident commander, per an active shooter policy he helped write.
But on May 24, Arredondo didn't consider himself in charge of the massive police response, he later said. An investigation by Texas legislators was sharply critical of Arredondo and the "void of leadership" among the almost 400 officers at the scene.
“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety,” the report’s authors wrote.
The school district on June 22 put Arredondo on administrative leave, and community members — including the victims' families — have been calling for his firing. That wasn't possible earlier for procedural reasons, school district leaders have said.
The board on Wednesday unanimously passed a motion to fire Arredondo without public discussion.
Earlier Wednesday, an attorney for Arredondo released a 17-page statement, calling for the police chief to be reinstated with back pay. Arredondo did not attend the meeting, and his attorney George Hyde described it as an "illegal and unconstitutional public lynching." The statement accused the victims' families of unfairly focusing their grief and anger toward the police chief because the shooter was killed at the scene.
"So naturally, those affected lash out and seek more retribution by identifying a new target to focus their grief on with the belief it will help them stop hurting," Hyde wrote. "Unfortunately, it won't."
As they waited for the meeting to begin, a number of family members of the victims spoke emotionally about their loved ones and called on the school board to make changes.