The superintendent of the Uvalde, Texas, school district now says that the embattled chief of his police department should be fired, almost two months after one of the worst school shootings in the nation’s history happened on his watch.
The only question now is why it took so long?
In the weeks since 19 children and two adults were killed by a gunman inside Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, a combination of news reports, a state investigation and surveillance and body camera video have documented numerous failures by law enforcement officers who responded to the scene on May 24. Those failures, which range from waiting more than an hour before entering an unlocked classroom and killing the shooter to blocking and even handcuffing desperate parents who wanted to rescue their children, extend far beyond the Uvalde school police, led by Chief Pete Arredondo.
But Arredondo and his department have been blamed for some of the most egregious conduct. It was his officers that initially entered the school and had the first opportunity to encounter and possibly take a shot at the killer, but declined to do so. Some of his officers were also among those seen standing in a hallway inside the school with weapons and tactical gear who waited for more than 70 minutes to enter.
Arredondo still denies that he was the commanding officer on the scene, despite the fact that he was the first officer of any rank to arrive and the fact that as the chief of the school district’s police force, Robb Elementary was squarely within his department’s jurisdiction.
After weeks without any action besides placing Arredondo on administrative leave, the Uvalde school board will finally take up whether to act on the superintendent’s recommendation later this week, reports the New York Times.
A school board meeting set for Saturday will include a closed session with the district’s lawyer to discuss “possible action regarding termination for good cause” of Chief Arredondo based on a recommendation from the superintendent, Hal Harrell, according to a board agenda made public on Monday.
In the weeks since the May 24 shooting, many Uvalde residents have been calling for the termination of Chief Arredondo, who under the district’s mass shooting response plan was supposed to lead the response but failed to order any officers into the besieged classrooms as he searched for backups, shields and keys.
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Arredondo has already resigned a Uvalde City Council seat he won earlier this year.