by Jake Blyberg
UVALDE, Texas ( Associated Press) — Facing massive public pressure, Uvalde’s top school official has recommended the firing of the school district police chief, following the failed law enforcement response to the elementary school shooting nearly two months ago. were at the centre, in which two teachers and 19 were killed. student.
The school board of the South Texas city announced Wednesday that it would consider sacking Chief Pete Arredondo at a special meeting on Saturday. Arredondo has been accused by state officials of committing several serious mistakes during the May 24 mass shooting at Rob’s Elementary School.
School officials have previously resisted calls to fire Arredondo. The announcement comes two days after a meeting where school board members were lambasted for more than three hours by members of the public, who blamed them for not enforcing basic protections in Robb for not being transparent about what happened. and failing to capture Arredondo. To give account of his actions.
Faced with vocal demands from parents to sack Arredondo and warnings of his next job, Superintendent Hal Harrell said Monday that the police chief was a contract worker who could not be fired at will. The agenda for Saturday’s meeting includes the board discussing possible firing with its lawyer.
Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, has faced sharp criticism since the massacre, particularly for not ordering officials to immediately dissolve the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman attacked. If fired, Arredondo would become the first officer fired from his job following the deadliest Texas school shooting in history.
Although nearly 400 officers from various agencies were involved in the police response, which took more than an hour to confront and kill the shooter, Arredondo is one of only two known to have faced the discipline. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The move to potentially fire the chief comes after a Texas House committee released a damning 80-page report that blamed all levels of law enforcement for the slow and chaotic response. The report found that 376 law enforcement officers gathered at the school, more than half of whom came from state and federal agencies, but they “failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they were at their own risk of saving innocent lives.” failed to prioritize.
According to the committee, Arredondo told lawmakers that he does not consider himself the on-scene commander in charge and that his priority is to protect children in other classes. The committee’s report called that decision a “terrible, tragic mistake.”
Body camera footage released by Uvalde officials shows Arredondo trying several sets of keys on doors to other classrooms in the hallway, but not the one where the massacre took place. The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there is no indication that the officers tried to open the door while the gunman was inside.
“Our thought was: ‘If that comes out, you know, you eliminate the threat,’ right?” Reportedly, Arredondo told the committee. “And just the idea of other kids being in other classrooms, my thought was: ‘We can’t let him back out. If he comes back, we kick him out, or we eliminate the danger. ‘”
Arredondo, 50, grew up in Uvalde and spent most of his nearly 30-year career in law enforcement in the city. He took the job of chief police in the school district in 2020 and was sworn in as a member of the city council in a closed-door ceremony on May 31. He resigned his council seat on 2 July.
Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.
The spelling of the police chief’s surname has been corrected at several places in the story.
More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting