The Uvalde District Police Chief was fired over the hesitant response of hundreds of heavily armed law enforcement officers during the May massacre at Robb Elementary School.
In a unanimous vote, the board of directors of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) fired police chief Pete Arredondo, three months after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in US history.
He was on unpaid administrative leave shortly after May 24 shooting.
The parents yelled “coward” in the room where the meeting took place.
Mr. Arredondo did not attend, but within minutes his lawyer released a ferocious 4,500-word letter that was the police chief’s most thorough defense of his actions so far.
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For over 17 provocative pages, he insisted that Arredondo was not the clumsy school police chief that a malicious state investigation accused of not taking the lead and wasting time looking for the keys to a likely open door, but a brave officer whose balanced decisions saved the lives of other students.
The letter also accused Uvalde school officials of putting his life at risk by not allowing him to carry a weapon to the school board meeting.
“Chief Arredondo is a brave leader and officer who, with all the other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives saved, rather than vilified for those they failed to reach in time. “, the letter reads.
He also said the district was wrong in firing him, saying he had not conducted any investigation “that would establish evidence to support the decision to fire” his employment.
Since Mr. Arredondo was chief of police at UCISD, the school board had the power to fire him.
State police and a damning investigative report in July criticized the former school district police chief of some 4,000 students for failing to take charge of the scene, not hacking into the classroom first, and wasting time looking for a key to a probable open door.
Investigations and camera body footage laid bare how police rushed to the scene with bulletproof shields and high-powered rifles within minutes, but waited over an hour before finally confronting the gunman in. a classroom for fourth grade children.
Superintendent Hal Harrell had initially moved in to fire Mr. Arredondo in July, but postponed the decision at the request of the police chief’s attorney.
Only one other police officer on the scene, Uvalde Police Lieutenant Mariano Pargas, is known to have been put on leave after the shooting.
Mr. Pargas was the interim police chief of the city during the massacre.
The Texas Department of Public Security, which had more than 90 state policemen on site, also launched an internal investigation into the state police response.