July 21 – The Uvalda, Texas, school board plans to vote this weekend on the superintendent’s recommendation to fire the school district’s police chief, who is widely criticized for his handling of a shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in May.
The Uvalda Independent School District board is scheduled to consider Pete Arredondo’s job fate in a closed session during a special session Saturday, according to a schedule posted Wednesday on the district’s website.
The seven-member panel plans to consult with the school district’s attorney before voting on whether to terminate Arredondo from his position “for good cause,” as recommended by Superintendent Hal Harrell, the program shows.
Neither Harrell nor Arredondo nor their representatives immediately responded to requests for comment.
Parents of children killed in the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School demanded that Arredondo be fired during Monday’s school board meeting in Uvalda, a small town in the Texas Hill Country about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
Arredondo, who acted as the “incident commander” responsible for the law enforcement response to the mass shooting, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), resigned his seat on the Uvalde City Council this month.
He came under sharp criticism as DPS officials revealed days after the shooting that 19 officers waited for an hour in a hallway outside the adjacent classrooms where the shooter was holed up with his victims before a US Border Patrol-led tactical team finally got in and killed him. suspicious.
DPS officials said Arredondo decided to delay sending officers to take the suspect down earlier because they believed the immediate threat to students had passed after the initial burst of gunfire in the classrooms.
According to DPS, Arredondo hesitated even as two fourth-grade girls cowering in classrooms frantically whispered calls to 911 dispatchers and begged police to send help.
Citing video footage and other materials collected by investigators, The New York Times reported that supervisors at the scene knew the victims were trapped alive and in desperate need of medical attention, while Arredondo appeared to be in pain over how long it took to get protective gear and find the key to the classroom door.
Arredondo said he never considered himself in command of the incident and that he did not order police to hold back in attacking the suspect’s position.
A report by the Texas state legislature found that “systemic failures” and poor leadership contributed to the loss of life. It also said hundreds of officers from agencies better trained and equipped than the six-member school district police also failed.