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Uvalde school board unanimously votes to fire its police chief

Arredondo has been at the center of investigation regarding the actions he took during the Robb Elementary school shooting on May 2

August 25, 2022 7:49pm

Updated: August 25, 2022 7:49pm

UVALDE, Texas – The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s School Board unanimously voted Wednesday to fire Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, the school district’s police chief, three months after the shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers.

“Mr. Board President, I move that good cause exists to terminate the non-certified contract of Pete Arredondo, effective immediately,” Uvalde CISD board member Paula Perez said. “I further move that good cause exists to ratify the unpaid leave status of Mr. Arredondo starting July 16, 2022.”

Angry families, students and Uvalde citizens spoke up at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Daniel Myers said the board doesn’t “care squat about these families,” before pointing the finger at its members for their failures and demanding they be held accountable.

Myers said the Robb Elementary Committee Interim Report, which was released to the public on July 17, pointed to three main failures that the board should be held accountable for, including school administration ignoring safety issues, ignoring training and not conducting a background check on Arredondo, who Myers claimed was fired and suspended in other cities prior to Uvalde.

Arredondo has been at the center of investigation regarding the actions he took during the Robb Elementary school shooting on May 24. The former police chief was pin-pointed as the incident commander during the shooting, which he denied in a statement released by his attorney to the public less than an hour before the school board meeting. 

“The incident command allegations are patently false and are intended to distract and shift blame,” George E. Hyde, an attorney for Arredondo, said.

Because the shooting began outside the school boundaries, at the home of 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, Arredondo contends that the incident commander was the Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco.

Incident command structures are identified by the National Incident Management System.

Hyde further contends that Arredondo acted within the active shooter guidelines outlined in the 2018 Active Shooter Protocol, by the Law Enforcement Policy Center, International Association of Police Chiefs, to protect further loss of life at all costs, which his client feared would happen if Ramos fired shots into the hallway.

“My thought was: We’re a barrier; get these kids out – not the hallway, because the bullets are flying through the walls, but get them out the wall – out the windows, because I know, on the outside, it’s brick,” Arredondo testified to the Texas House of Representatives investigating committee on June 21.

The former police chief did not attend the school board meeting, which his attorney called “an illegal charade strategically designed to infringe on Chief Arredondo’s ability to speak freely to clear his name.”

Hyde said his client feared for his life and has been receiving death threats, which he claimed the school board knew about and ignored.

“Moreover, it has been publicly reported that Chief Arredondo has been the victim of death threats made by individuals with the means to carry them out,” Hyde said. “The last thing anyone wants is for these proceedings to be compounded by violence, especially gun violence.”

“We have just been told that Mr. Arredondo is not going to be here because he doesn’t feel safe,” Brett Cross said during the board meeting, upset that the police chief would not be there to face the consequences of his actions.

Cross, the uncle of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, one of the victims of the shooting, also asked the board not to go into a closed session. In the interest of full transparency, they should speak in front of everyone in attendance.

“Do not – do not take this into closed sessions. We deserve to hear. Our babies are dead. Our teachers are dead. Our parents are dead,” said to resounding applause from the audience. “The least y’all can do is show us the respect to do this in the public.”

Despite protests, the school board held a closed session for 87 minutes to discuss the termination of employment.