Pete Arredondo has been fired from his role as police chief of the school district in Uvalde, Texas, exactly three months after a mass shooting killed 19 students and two teachers in one of the schools in his jurisdiction.
The school board vote at a meeting, which Arredondo refused to attend, was unanimous, according to reports Wednesday evening. Arredondo already stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in after the shooting.
After hearing testimony from some in the audience, the board moved onto a private meeting to discuss Arredondo’s contract, as Texas law requires such decisions to be made in a closed session, according to CNN. The board members then returned to read the motion to terminate the police chief’s non-certified contract, and ratify his leave. The announcement was met with audible cheers from the audience, according to the New York Times.
The now-former police chief’s attorney sent out a 17-page statement decrying the expected decision an hour before it began, according to CNN.
“Chief 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,” the statement read. It added that Arredondo would not be attending the meeting due to death threats.
The blame directed towards Arredondo was simply “a smoke screen attempt to ‘blame the Mexican’!” the statement read. “One could blame God. Why did God let this happen? Certainly, and without question, the only person responsible for this tragedy is the shooter himself.”
State and federal agencies have opened investigations into the shooting, scrutinizing the timeline of the law enforcement response.
Arredondo in particular became a target of criticism over law enforcement’s response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, especially over the question of why it took authorities more than 70 minutes before they confronted and killed the 18-year-old gunman. The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the now-former police chief was the incident commander primarily responsible for the “lackadaisical approach” of law enforcement, even going so far as to say that Arredondo was “the only thing” that stopped law enforcement from engaging the gunman immediately.
Nikki Cross, an aunt and guardian of one of the children killed in the massacre, praised the decision to fire Arrendondo as a good “first victory.” She added, “They need to fire the rest of them next.”