Texas police chief fired for response to Uvalde school shooting
The Uvalde school board terminated district Police Chief Pete Arredondo after police officers hesitated to respond during the May 24 elementary school shooting
Police officers’ hesitation to take down the gunman during the Uvalde school shooting and intense pressure from a grieving community led to a unanimous vote by the Uvalde school district to fire Police Chief Pete Arredondo.
The Washington Post reports that Arredondo came under intense scrutiny after officers waited over 70 minutes before confronting the gunman in Robb Elementary School. 19 children and two teachers were killed before the gunman was apprehended.
Parents, survivors and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board of trustees gathered on Wednesday, Aug. 24, to discuss Arredondo’s response during the May 24 massacre.
At the meeting, the board took public comments and later took a public vote. The New York Times reports that the room was filled with palpable tension. Audience members called the chief a “coward” and a young girl demanded over the microphone for him to turn in his badge, the Post reported.
Before the meeting, Arredondo’s attorney released a letter that described the officer as brave and made level-headed decisions that saved lives of other students, The Washington Post reported.
Was Arredondo responsible for the slow response to the shooter?
The Texas Department of Public Safety described Arredondo as the “incident commander responsible for the delayed response,” even though the police chief has said that he did not consider himself to be in charge, The New York Times reports.
An investigation from the Texas House of Representatives on the shooting reported that it found systemic failures of law enforcement as a whole. The report outlines details of the incident that day and police response.
The report says Arredondo was one of the first responders to arrive at the scene and he was engaged in an effort to stop the shooter. However, the report also says that the police chief “did not assume his preassigned responsibility of incident command, which would have entailed informing other officers that he was in command and leaving the building to exercise command with establishing and incident command post.”
Hundreds of officers arrived at the scene over the next hour without direction or an obvious person in charge, according to the report. The representatives say in the report that Arredondo didn’t learn of the victims in the rooms because of failure to establish a reliable method of communication outside of the building.