UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde school district’s embattled police chief was fired Wednesday following allegations that he made several critical mistakes during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
It has been three months since the tragic shooting in Uvalde.
Arredondo 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 the massacre — is known to have been placed on leave for their actions during the shooting.
Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, has faced blistering criticism since the May 24 massacre, most notably for not ordering officers to immediately breach the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman carried out the attack.
It was the only item on the agenda at Wednesday night's special meeting at the Uvalde High School auditorium. The board heard public comments and then went into a closed special session to discuss their options with the city attorney.
UCISD's superintendent will issue a written notice to Arrendondo to inform him of his termination and his unpaid leave status.
Ahead of the meeting, the attorney for Arredondo released a 17-page statement that said the handling of the shooting has turned into a blame game and the only person responsible is the shooter himself. The attorney also claims that Arredondo and several officers were completely unaware of any occupants in the room with the shooter.
"If the school district would have prioritized Chief Arredondo's request over a year prior to the incident, for key-card locks, better fencing, better training and more equipment, it could have been different," the statement read.
Read the statement in full below:
Wednesday's announcement was one that parents of the victims said was long overdue.
Family members of the victims have been calling for accountability in the aftermath of the tragedy. Some were calling for Arredondo to be fired since the shooting happened. There have been two previous times when the school board was set to consider Arredondo's future, but both were postponed. He had been on administrative leave since June.
In May, Arredondo was elected to Uvalde City Council. After the shooting, in July, he resigned from the position.
Arredondo has faced a lot of scrutiny over how he handled the response to the shooter, for failing to take charge of the scene and for not breaching the classroom door sooner.
The long process has taken a toll on the families of the victims.
Uziyah Garcia was killed in the shooting. His guardian, Nikki Cross, is one of the many that were calling for Arredondo to be fired.
"We want Pete fired. We don’t want him in the school district ... any school district," Cross said. "I am not attacking Pete’s personal character. I don’t know the man on that level. That day he didn’t do his job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t want any other children endangered because of that. We haven’t solely targeted Pete, he was just our first because he was the chief. In reality, anybody who was in that hallway could have made the decision to move forward, go in without him, they didn’t."
Laila Salazar also died in the shooting. Her grandfather was happy to see Arredondo fired.
"There ain't much to tell a coward. I think he has that yellow stripe on the back. It will stay with him for the rest of his life," Vincent Salazar said.
Parents said they're not done fighting for the accountability they feel is right. They want all of the officers seen on video standing in the school hallway to answer for their decision.
"It took them that long just to get rid of one person, that’s what I am saying the fight just began," Salazar said.
Cross didn't understand how the decision took so long.
"It should have been done 89 days ago. We are not done," Cross said.
Arredondo could appeal his termination. KHOU 11 News reached out to his attorney, who's based in Georgetown, Texas, but haven't heard back.