(UVALDE, Texas) — In a March 3, 2021, school board meeting, Uvalde police chief Pete Arredondo, raised concerns about security issues in schools.
Uvalde school board officials unanimously voted Wednesday to fire Pete Arredondo, the school district’s police chief, exactly three months after the school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The termination is effective immediately.
Arredondo was not in attendance at his termination hearing out of concerns over his safety, his attorney, George Hyde, said in a 17-page statement released shortly before the community gathered Wednesday evening.
Hyde claimed that the district did not file proper legal procedures in proceeding with disciplinary action and that follow-up requests for access to district complaints or investigations “have been ignored by the district,” calling the proceedings an “illegal and unconstitutional public lynching.”
Arredondo has been the target of criticism for the delayed response to the May 24 tragedy.
School officials have continued to face pressure to hold officers accountable for the 77 minutes it took before law enforcement breached a classroom door and killed the 18-year-old gunman.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District recommended that Arredondo be fired. The Uvalde school board canceled its July 23 special session to consider the district’s recommendation “in conformity with due process requirements, and at the request of his attorney.”
School board members agreed in an Aug. 15 meeting to hire outside attorneys ahead of the hearing.
Parents and community members have called on officials to fire Arredondo immediately, with some calling for the firing of other members of Uvalde’s school district police force who were present during the shooting.
According to an investigative report by the Texas House of Representatives into the events of May 24, the school district’s written active shooter plan assigned Arredondo “to assume command and control” during an active shooter incident.
“But as events unfolded, he failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander,” the report from the state House read. “This was an essential duty he had assigned to himself in the plan mentioned above, yet it was not effectively performed by anyone.”
The report goes on to describe the general consensus from witnesses that officers on the scene either “assumed that Chief Arredondo was in charge, or that they could not tell that anybody was in charge of a scene described by several witnesses as ‘chaos’ or a ‘cluster."”
Uvalde:365 is a continuing ABC News series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it forges on in the shadow of tragedy.
In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Arredondo said he did not consider himself the commanding officer on the scene. He has said he was not made aware of the 911 calls coming from the children in the attacked classrooms.
Arredondo has defended the police response to the incident.
“We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced,” Arredondo said. “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.”
Fifteen months before the school shooting, Arredondo at a school board meeting mentioned some of the security issues that investigators found played critical roles in the failures connected with the May 24 massacre, including problems with police radios and school doors left open.
In other remarks, Arredondo pointed out the need for more active shooter training.
Arredondo resigned from his city council post and is currently on leave from his position as UCISD police chief.
He is calling for the board to “immediately reinstate him, with all back pay and benefits and close the complaint as unfounded,” his attorney said Wednesday.
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