Uvalde Cancels School Board Meeting to Consider Firing Police Chief Pete Arredondo

Uvalde Schools Police Chief
Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, on his cellphone, during mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.City of Uvalde

Uvalde's school police chief Pete Arredondo has been severely criticized by authorities and residents for multiple failures in responding to the Robb Elementary School massacre.

A special Uvalde school board meeting to discuss the firing of its heavily criticized police chief was canceled after the man's attorney contacted officials, the board said in a statement.

Embattled chief Pete Arredondo was one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene at Robb Elementary School when a gunman opened fire on May 24, and he has been roundly criticized for failing to respond as 77 minutes ticked by while the shooter slaughtered 19 children and two teachers.

Enraged relatives have increasingly demanded he be fired as investigations of that horrible day concluded that Arredondo failed numerous times to take control of the chaos.

The board canceled Saturday's termination hearing after Arredondo's lawyer questioned whether "due process" was being followed in reviewing his client's employment.

"In conformity with due process requirements, and at the request of his attorney, the meeting to consider the termination of Chief Arredondo will be held at a later date which has yet to be determined," said a written statement from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District on Friday.

Board Superintendent Hal Harrell had recommended late last week that Arredondo, 50, be fired and that a special hearing be held Saturday to vote on that recommendation.

In announcing that the meeting had been canceled, the board also said in its statement that Arredondo was now on administrative leave without pay. In June, Arredondo had been suspended with pay.

The cancellation renewed outrage felt by relatives of the victims who consider terminating Arredondo's employment long overdue.

"They're upset. They're angry. They think it should have been done a long time ago," Jesus Rizo, whose 9-year-old niece was shot and killed by a lone gunman with one rifle, told Inside Edition Digital on Monday. 

"I was disappointed," Rizo said of his own reaction. "The emotions are hard. It's a rollercoaster." But the uncle of Jackie Cazares said he understands that taking official action against the chief requires careful procedures.

"It has to be done correctly, the termination," he said. "To make sure he doesn't have a way to file a lawsuit, that he doesn't have a way to get his job back."

The scathing report issued last week by a Texas House investigation committee determined "systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making" surrounding the shooting.

Arredondo received some of the most damning criticism in the report. He failed to take command at the scene at first responders “lost critical momentum” by treating the situation as a "barricaded subject" scenario instead of an "active shooter," the report said. Arredondo “did not assume his pre-assigned responsibility of incident command,” it added.

The school police chief also cast off his law enforcement radios as he ran into the school, leaving him with no access to radio traffic between his officers on the scene, the report said. 

"He arrived with his radios, but as he exited his vehicle, he was fumbling with them and they bothered him, so he dropped them by the school fence knowing that Sgt. Coronado, the sergeant on patrol, was there and 'fully uniformed' with his radio," the investigation determined.

No one took control in the chaos despite 376 officers descending on the school, the report said. Of those responding, 149 were agents from the U.S. Border Patrol, 14 were from the Department of Homeland Security, and 91 were Texas Rangers from the state's Department of Public Safety.

Also on the scene were 25 members of the Uvalde Police Department, 16 SWAT members of the San Antonio Police Department and 16 deputies from the Uvalde County Sheriff's Office, the report said.

Arredondo has not spoken publicly about the blistering review of his actions, but he told a local newspaper last month that he did not consider himself the commanding officer of law enforcement officers on the scene.

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