Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo was fired Wednesday by the Texas city’s school board.
The board voted unanimously to oust the embattled chief after a recommendation from the school district superintendent.
Arredondo's removal caps three months of outrage over the botched law enforcement response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School, which killed 19 children and two teachers.
One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds passed from the time police entered the building May 24 until the gunman was killed, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has said.
Before Wednesday's vote at a special school board meeting, a speaker who appeared to be a child said: "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."
Arredondo did not attend the meeting, which was called to address his employment. In a statement sent before it started, Arredondo's lawyer said he has faced death threats and did not believe the meeting was safe.
The lawyer, George Hyde, said that 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."
Hyde also portrayed Arredondo as a victim of those affected by the massacre. Instead of being able to lash out at the gunman, who was fatally shot by police, they sought “more retribution by identifying a new target to focus their grief on, with the belief that it will help them stop hurting,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it won’t,” Hyde said. “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.”
Jazmin Cazares, whose sister was killed in the shooting, said Wednesday on Twitter that "we appreciate the school board for FINALLY listening to us, but we aren’t going to applaud them for doing something that should have been done MONTHS ago."
A scathing report released last month by a Texas House committee faulted “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” by law enforcement and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.
It says that under the district's active shooter plan, Arredondo would have been the incident commander, but he "did not assume his preassigned responsibility of incident command." Arredondo has said he did not consider himself to be the officer in charge.
McCraw has described the police response as an “abject failure.”
Arredondo, who has mostly kept a low profile and avoided media questions, told The Texas Tribune in June that officers never “hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk.”
Arredondo, who took over as police chief for the school district in 2020, also told The Tribune he considered himself a front-line responder — not the person managing the broader response.
Arredondo resigned from the Uvalde City Council on July 2. He was elected to the position just weeks before the school shooting.
Angry and heartbroken parents expressed their outrage to the school board last month, calling for the school superintendent to be fired and for trustees to step down.
Some repeated their calls for Arredondo to be fired. He was placed on paid administrative leave in June.
The superintendent had previously said the school district would wait until the investigation into the massacre was complete before it made personnel decisions.
Coverage of the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde
- Evolving narrative: Here are the details police have walked back
- Uvalde school's classrooms lacked a basic security feature — and it’s missing across America
- The Uvalde school district had an extensive safety plan. 19 children were killed anyway.
- Amid failures in school shooting response, there were attempts at heroism
- Blistering report finds 'systemic failures' by authorities in the wake of Uvalde school shooting
State officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have been criticized over the law enforcement response and a changing narrative after the killings.
Abbott and other officials initially said a school resource officer confronted the killer as he entered the campus, which was not true and was later retracted.