Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo Fired By School Board
Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo was fired by the Uvalde school board in a unanimous vote conducted August 24 following a recommendation from the district’s superintendent. The residents of Uvalde were happy to see him go, but many wondered why it took three months to fire him in the first place.
Much of the criticism leveled at Uvalde officers was focused on Arredondo, the incident commander on the day of the shooting. The police response to the shooting has been labeled an “abject failure” following an investigation led by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw. That same investigation revealed officers waited exactly 74 minutes and 8 seconds before engaging the shooter, Salvador Ramos, reports NBC News.
Arredondo opted to not attend the special meeting called by Uvalde’s school board and instead sent a letter through his attorney, George Hyde. The document was, according to the Daily News, a 17-page, 4,500-word document that attempted to reframe Arredondo’s response as an act of heroism, going so far as to blame the parents of Uvalde for their response to Arredondo’s actions on May 24.
According to Newsweek, other excerpts from Arredondo’s official statements read, “Chief Arredondo will not participate in his own illegal and unconstitutional public lynching and respectfully requests the Board immediately reinstate him, with all backpay and benefits and close the complaint as unfounded.”
Jesse Rizo, the uncle of one of the victims, responded to that particular segment of the statement, saying, “The audacity. Who would come up with that? You didn’t have a car wreck into a stop sign. You had a loss of life. 21 of them.”
The official statement also claims that “Chief Arredondo is a leader and a courageous officer who with all of the other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives saved, instead of vilified for those they couldn’t reach in time, and not for lack of effort.”
Perhaps the most egregious section of the statement comes when Arredondo’s attorney blames parents and the school board, claiming they only want “more retribution by identifying a new target to focus their grief on, with the belief that it will help them stop hurting,” adding, “Unfortunately, it won’t. Retribution will not bring anyone back; it is a hollow reward, and it will only spread more hurt and pain in an unjust and biased manner.”
There was tension in the air as the Uvalde school board called a special meeting to determine the future of Arredondo’s employment. Before an hour-long closed session to determine his employment status, a handful of Uvalde residents, including a young child, approached the microphone to voice their opinions.
“I have messages for Pete Arredondo and all the law enforcement that were there that day. Turn in your badge and step down. You don’t deserve to wear one,” the child said. They were accompanied by parents and relatives of children involved in the Robb Elementary massacre, who agreed that Arredondo had no place in a position where he’d be tasked with protecting children.
Layla Salazar’s grandfather, Vicente, went so far as to say that Ruben Nolasco, the Uvalde County Sheriff, should be fired as well. “We need to take Uvalde back for our people,” he said. Many Uvalde residents have echoed Salazar’s sentiments, with some demanding that every officer involved with the May 24 shooting should be fired immediately.