Uvalde police chief fired for clumsy response to worst school shooting in US history | Texas school shooting

The Uvalde School District fired Police Chief Pete Arrendondo on Wednesday, making him the first officer to lose his job due to law enforcement’s hesitant and clumsy response during a Texas primary school when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in a fourth grade classroom.

In a unanimous vote held after months of furious calls for his ousting, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees fired Arredondo to an auditorium of parents and survivors of the May 24 massacre. His firing came three months to the day after one of the deadliest classroom shootings in US history.

Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, came under intense scrutiny from the nearly 400 officers who rushed to the school but waited more than an hour to confront the 18-year-old shooter. years in a fourth-class, even though the parents outside would have begged them to act.

state police and a damning investigative report in July criticized the police chief for the school district of about 4,000 students for not taking charge of the scene, not entering the classroom sooner and wasting time looking for a key to a door probably unlocked.

Arredondo was not present at the school board meeting, but through his lawyer he published a searing and defiant 17-page letter that attacked state officials, defended the response police to the May 24 massacre and accused the school board of endangering his safety. by not allowing him to carry a gun to the meeting, noting that he has received death threats.

“Chief Arredondo will not participate in his own unlawful and unconstitutional public lynching,” his attorney, George Hyde, wrote in the statement.

When news broke that Arredondo would not be attending the meeting, some in the auditorium, including relatives of victims, shouted, “Coward!” and “And our children?”

Arredondo’s attorney wrote in the statement that he was being treated as a “fall boy” and a “sacrificial lamb.” Hyde accused the school district of being unprepared for an attacker and described the actions taken by Arrendondo and hundreds of other officers at the scene as “reasonable.”

Heavily armed law enforcement officers arrived at the school minutes after the attack, but police did not enter the classroom and confront the shooter for more than an hour, a response that has been widely criticized as a failure to enact “active shooter” protocols. developed in the aftermath of the Columbine school shooting in 1999.

As the meeting began, news broke of a statement from Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo in which he said he would not be attending the meeting. Audience members, including parents of the victims, broke into chants screaming “coward.” pic.twitter.com/V2wNCZ8Lef

— Acacia C (@acacia_coronado) August 24, 2022


As the meeting began, news broke of a statement from Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo in which he said he would not be attending the meeting. Members of the public, including relatives of the victims, started chanting “coward”. pic.twitter.com/V2wNCZ8Lef

— Acacia C (@acacia_coronado) August 24, 2022

But Arredondo’s attorney argued that a more aggressive law enforcement approach to the shooter inside the classroom could have resulted in a ‘shootout with officers’ and a hail of bullets that could have left “20 or 30 kids in the hallway” dead, some of them potentially. shot dead by the police.

“Chief Arredondo did the right thing,” he wrote.

The school district itself had made fatal mistakes prior to the shooting, the police chief’s attorney said: “If the district had erected 6-foot fences around the school leaving only one entrance/ output, it could have been different. If school employees had done as they were told and kept their doors always locked during instructional times, as dictated by district policy, it might have been different.

Hyde called Arredondo “a brave leader and officer who, along with every other law enforcement officer who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives saved, not vilified for those they couldn’t reach in time.

Hyde did not immediately respond to a request for comment in response to news of Arredondo’s firing.

Uvalde school officials have come under increasing pressure from the families of the victims and members of the community, many of whom have called for Arredondo to be fired. Superintendent Hal Harrell initially decided to fire Arredondo in July, but postponed the decision at the request of the police chief’s attorney.

Among those present at Wednesday’s meeting was Ruben Torres, father of Chloe Torres, who survived the shooting in room 112 at the school. He said that as a former Marine, he took an oath which he faithfully carried out of his own free will and did not understand why officers did not step in when leadership failed.

Her daughter, being very young, “is struggling to deal with this horrific event,” Torres said.

Arredondo’s firing was “the first victory” for the families of the victims, Nikki Cross, who lost her 10-year-old nephew in the shooting, said at the meeting. “They have to fire the others next.”

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

As is often the case after school shootings in the United States, officials decided to further harden school buildings against attacks, rather than pass sweeping gun control laws.

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

However, according to the district’s own progress reports, as of Tuesday, no fencing had been erected on six of the eight campuses where it was scheduled, and cameras had only been installed at the high school. Progress was made on the locks on three of the eight campuses, and communication improvements were marked as half complete for each campus.

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

School officials say a virtual academy will be offered to students. The district did not specify how many students will attend virtually

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