Baltimore Sun

Uvalde school board to consider firing police chief in wake of shooting

- By Jake Bleiberg

UVALDE, Texas — Facing massive public pressure, Uvalde’s top school official has recommende­d the firing of the school district police chief who was central to the botched law enforcemen­t response to the elementary school shooting nearly two months ago that killed two teachers and 19 students.

The South Texas city’s school board announced Wednesday that it will consider firing Chief Pete Arredondo at a special meeting Saturday. Arredondo has been accused by state officials of making several critical mistakes during the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

School officials have previously resisted calls to fire Arredondo. The announceme­nt comes two days after a meeting where the school board members were lambasted for more than three hours by members of the public, who accused them of not implementi­ng basic security at Robb, of not being transparen­t about what happened and of failing to hold Arredondo to account for his actions.

Confronted with parents’ vociferous demands to fire Arredondo and warnings that his job would be next, Superinten­dent Hal Harrell said Monday that the police chief was a contract employee who could not be fired at will. The agenda for Saturday’s meeting includes the board discussing the potential firing with its lawyer.

Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, has faced blistering criticism since the massacre, most notably for not ordering officers to immediatel­y breach the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman carried out the attack. If fired, Arredondo

would become the first officer ousted from his job following the deadliest Texas school shooting in history.

Although nearly 400 officers from various agencies were involved in the police response that took more than an hour to confront and kill the shooter, Arredondo is one of only two known to have faced discipline. His attorney did not immediatel­y respond to requests for comment.

The move to potentiall­y fire the chief follows the release of a damning 77-page report by a Texas House committee that blamed all levels of law enforcemen­t for a slow and chaotic response. The report found that 376 law enforcemen­t officers massed at the school, with more than half coming from state and federal agencies, but that they “failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety.”

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