Uvalde Parents Respond To Fired Police Chief Pete Arredondo

The Uvalde school district’s disgraced police chief Pete Arrendondo was fired Wednesday after allegations that he made several critical mistakes during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board of trustees dismissed police Chief Pete Arredondo in a unanimous vote, three months to the day after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history.

Uvalde Parents Respond To Fired Police Chief Pete Arredondo

“Coward!” parents yelled in a Uvalde auditorium as the meeting got underway.

Arredondo is the first officer dismissed over the lack of response by law enforcement during the May 24 tragedy. 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 come under national backlash from the nearly 400 officers who rushed to the school, however, waited more than an hour to confront the 18-year-old gunman in a fourth-grade classroom.

Arredondo was also criticized for not ordering officers to act sooner. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said Arredondo was in charge of the law enforcement response to the attack.

Arredondo was not in attendance. Instead, just moments before the meeting of the Uvalde school board got underway, Arredondo’s attorney released a scathing 4,500-word letter that amounted to the police chief’s fullest defense to date of his actions.

In a total of 17 pages, Arredondo is described as a brave officer whose level-headed decisions saved the lives of other students — despite a state investigation that blamed him for not taking command and wasted time by looking for keys to a likely unlocked door.

The letter also accused Uvalde school officials of putting his life at risk by not letting him carry a weapon to the school board meeting.

“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,” Hyde wrote.

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Uvalde school officials have been under mounting pressure from victims’ families and members of the community, many of whom have called for Arredondo’s termination. Superintendent Hal Harrell had first moved to fire Arredondo in July but postponed the decision at the request of the police chief’s attorney.

Among those at the meeting was Ruben Torres, father of Chloe Torres, who survived the shooting in room 112 of the school. He said that as a former Marine, he took an oath that he faithfully executed willingly, and did not understand why officers did not take action when leadership failed.

“Right now, being young, she is having a hard time handling this horrific event,” Torres said.

Parent Adam Martinez also weighed in on the firing, saying how “he has no character, no dignity.” He went on to say how “from the beginning with the response from the family, with the children…you would think that any normal human being would just say ‘you know what, I need to resign.'”

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which had over 90 state troopers at the scene, has also launched an internal investigation into the response by state police.

School officials have said the campus at Robb Elementary will no longer be used. Instead, campuses elsewhere in Uvalde will serve as temporary classrooms for elementary school students, not all of whom are willing to return to school in person following the shooting.

For those who do not want to return in person, a virtual academy will be offered to students. The district has not said how many students will attend virtually, but a new state law passed last year in Texas following the pandemic limits the number of eligible students receiving remote instruction to “10% of all enrolled students within a given school system.”

RELATED: 10-Year-Old Victim Of Uvalde Shooting Discharged From Hospital

Schools can seek a waiver to exceed the limit however, Uvalde has not done so, per Melissa Holmes, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency.

New measures to improve school safety in Uvalde include “8-foot, non-scalable perimeter fencing” at elementary, middle, and high school campuses, according to the school district. Officials say they have also installed additional security cameras, upgraded locks, enhanced training for district staff, and improved communication.

But according to the district’s own progress reports, as of Tuesday, no fencing had been erected at six of the eight campuses where it was planned, and cameras had only been installed at the high school. And while some progress had been made on locks at three of eight campuses, communication improvement was marked as half complete for each campus.

Martinez, the father of two students, will send his kids to the online school that Uvalde is offering. And while it wasn’t his first choice, as he spoke with his kids, it became clear they were still scared.

“I was telling my son, ‘there’s gonna be a tall fence, and they’re gonna have state troopers on all the locations,’” Martinez said. “And he told me, ‘Who cares if there are cops? They’re not going to do anything anyway, they’re scared.’”

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