Earlier today, Karen mentioned that Uvalde’s school board would be holding a vote to decide the fate of Chief Pete Arredondo. The vote had been scheduled to take place about a month ago but Arredondo’s lawyer somehow managed to convince the board to push the vote back twice. In any case, the delay doesn’t seem to have helped. The vote to oust him was unanimous.
Three months to the day after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, the Uvalde school board Wednesday night fired school district police Chief Pete Arredondo, who has been the focus of much of the scrutiny and blame for law enforcement’s 77-minute delay in confronting the gunman who shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24…
Community members and friends and family of the slain victims packed the John H. Harrell Auditorium on Wednesday, demanding accountability from the school board, who took the item into executive session before taking a final vote in open session.
Six community members spoke during public comments, including 10-year-old Caitlyne Gonzalez, a friend of Jackie Cazares, who died at Robb Elementary on May 24.
“If a law enforcement person’s job is to protect and serve, why didn’t you protect my friends and teachers on May 24,” Gonzalez said. “I have messages for Pete Arredondo and all the law enforcement that were there that day ‘turn in your badge and step down. You don’t deserve to wear one.’”
It’s a shame that a traumatized 10-year-old appears to be smarter than the entire school board combined. Arredondo should have been fired months ago. His egregious failure as a leader almost certainly contributed to the deaths that took place three months ago. Under his command officers sat around for 75 minutes looking for a key to a door that wasn’t even locked. Why the board decided to listen to the pleas of this idiot’s lawyer is truly beyond me.
Arredondo didn’t show up at tonight’s vote. His lawyer handed out a 17-page press release which said, among other things, that his client couldn’t be present because there hadn’t been enough done to ensure his safety! I swear I’m not making this up:
It has been publicly reported that Chief Arredondo has been the victim of death threats made by individuals with the means to carry them out. The last thing anyone wants is for these proceedings to be compounded by violence, especially gun violence. Despite death threats being common knowledge, the School District has not disclosed any effort on its part to ensure the safety of Chief Arredondo, his legal counsel, or any of the pubic in attendance under such tense circumstances. Without such steps, Chief Arredondo does not believe the planned district meeting is safe and is certainly not going to appear without exercising his state rights to be armed, unless the School District discloses in writing its safety protocol to ensure Chief Arredondo’s life and the lives of those in attendance, including both the Board, its Superintendent, and the media.
It doesn’t seem possible but the statement, which Arredondo’s lawyer wanted read in full at the board meeting, actually gets worse from there. In this section, we get an explanation for why people are fixated on the Chief which manages to be both insulting of people’s faith and also their common sense. [emphasis in original]
One could blame God. Why did God let this happen? But those with faith in God, excuse such atrocities, by maintaining faith that it is all in God’s plan. Certainly, and without question, the only person responsible for this tragedy is the shooter himself. He is the one person who could have saved everyone if he could have changed his mind and his plan to hurt the innocent and seek death from a Police Officer’s bullet.
But, because the shooter was successful in hurting the innocent and obtaining “death by cop”, he is no longer alive, so those grieving do not have a target to direct their anger toward. And, with the sudden loss of his life, and while the police were completely justified in taking his life, it still doesn’t help anyone with the grief they are experiencing. So naturally, those affected lash out and seek more retribution by identifying a new target to focus their grief on, with the belief that it will help them stop hurting. Unfortunately, it won’t. “Two wrongs do not make a right.” Retribution will not bring anyone back; it is a hollow reward, and it will only spread more hurt and pain in an unjust and biased manner.
It’s certainly true that no one could have saved everyone that day. This was going to be a national tragedy no matter what the police did from the moment they entered the school. But it’s also true that Arredondo was in command and had a duty to follow the best practices for dealing with an active school shooter that day. That meant stacking up armed police and engaging the shooter ASAP.
Had he done what he was supposed to do, this still would have been a tragedy and maybe some officers would have been killed as well, but some of the victims might have survived. If nothing else, those children who were dying in that room begging for help might have died in the care of adults who were doing their utmost to save them rather than bleeding out on the floor in a state of terror because they were at the mercy of a monster. Arredondo’s stupidity or cowardice (or both) didn’t allow them that chance. Arredondo sat their for more than an hour waiting for a key to a door that was never locked. And still this walking failure has the gall to let his lawyer claim he did the right thing.
Some say that police work is 95% boredom, 5% shear terror. They are right, but the scary part is that you never know when the terror will occur. Anyone can look at a situation and in the calm of an office or living room, criticize what was done, it doesn’t change the fact that based on what Chief knew, Chief did everything he knew how to save the children and school employees on May 24th. He was actively engaged in finding a means to get to the shooter while simultaneously directing other officers to remove the children and school employees that were in the “line of fire”…
Would the District have preferred a gunfight with officers in the hallway to break out again, and during that firefight, say 20 or 30 children across the hall are killed? And, what if some of them were killed by police officer fire? Chief Arredondo did the right thing.
From there his attorney goes on to blame everything and everyone else for what happened: [emphasis in original]
Director McCraw’s’ myopic viewpoint of this incident as only a school shooting, should be debunked for good. If the district provided ballistic shields capable of stopping a high velocity bullet, it could have been different. If the district had installed key card operating door access with magnetic locking plates, it could have been different. If an officer had arrived at the school before the shooter gained access into the rooms with children in them, it could have been different. If the district erected six-foot fences around the school leaving only one entrance/exit, it could have been different. If school employees did as they were told and kept their doors always locked during periods of instruction, as the district policy dictates, it could have been different. If radios worked inside the classroom buildings, it could have been different. If the school had extraction tools available to the police, it could have been different. If the school district would have
prioritized Chief Arredondo’s request over a year prior to the incident, for key-card locks, better fencing, better training, and more equipment, if could have been different. You need to remember when you point your finger and someone, three fingers are pointing back at you. You cannot exonerate the principal with unlocked doors and crucify the police chief that made it known over a year before…
It’s a shame none of those things happened but none of it changes that fact that when Arredondo arrived at the scene that day he had a job to do. That job, unfortunately, has been the subject of police training nationwide for many years. Arredondo had received that training but he did not do the job. When it mattered the most, he failed to do what was expected and required. It’s a shame he can’t be prosecuted for that failure but I certainly hope he’s sued into oblivion.