Pete Aredondo was the Uvalde Consolidated Independent Schools District (UCISD), Police Chief. He has come under national scrutiny because of his actions in the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24, 2015.
The UCISD school board voted unanimously for Arredondo’s termination exactly three months after the shooting. It convened behind closed doors to discuss Arredondo’s future with the school district, but also heard from four Uvalde residents in a town hall-style meeting, three of whom pleaded with the district to fire Arredondo.
The last testimony at Wednesday’s hearing was from 10-year-old Caitlyne Gonzalez. “If law enforcement’s job is to protect and serve, why didn’t they protect and serve my friends and teachers on May 24?” she 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!”
George Hyde was a Pete Arredondo lawyer who spoke out in support of his client. The 17-page statement, which TIME shared with TIME Wednesday night, just minutes before the meeting began, included a number of statements that were written by George Hyde.
Hyde said Arredondo “did everything he knew how” on May 24, the day a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. He added that Arredondo used the time waiting in the hallway—more than 70 minutes—to evacuate the school to prevent further violence and victimization, and said that Arredondo’s actions were consistent with active shooter training.
Continue reading:Pete Arredondo, Uvalde Schools Police Chief, Goes From Local Public Servant to National Pariah
Arredondo and his lawyer have not spoken to the general public since they spoke. Texas TribuneEarly June
It also criticizes the manner in which UCISD has conducted its investigation into Arredondo’s actions, and accuses the district of violating the police chief’s due process rights. Hyde attributes the death toll of May 24, 2012 to inaction on the part of other officers present at the scene and a failure to prepare.
“Chief Arredondo asked me to express in this statement, his devout loyalty to the law enforcement profession and the law enforcement in his community,” Hyde said.
The document also refers to Arredondo’s “respect for the officers who worked with him at the School District, and those working for the Uvalde Police Department and every other officer and agency that responded to this incident, because he knows that they all wanted to get the bad guy and save lives. Sadly, no matter how we tried, we could not save them all.”
Hyde goes on: “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? Imagine if some of the children were also killed in a firefight with officers. Chief Arredondo did the right thing.”
“It is important to note that Chief Arredondo, along with several other officers in the hallway, were completely unaware of any occupants in the room with the shooter until entry was made, the shooter was engaged, and the officers stopped him,” Hyde adds in bold font for emphasis.
Families of those who were killed in the Robb Elementary School massacre arrive at the Uvalde Consolidated International School District Board Special Meeting to discuss the possible firing Chief Pete Arredondo, Police Officer on August 24, 2022, in Uvalde Texas.
Jordan Vonderhaar—Getty Images
Uvalde Shooting: Accountability
Arredondo was the one who took most of the blame in the May 24-shooting and has kept it out of the public’s eye ever since. On June 22, Arredondo was placed on an unpaid administrative leave. The decision to terminate him comes after a July 17 report by members of the Texas legislature found that there were no “villains” over the course of its investigation, but “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making.”
According to reports, Daniel Myers was a local pastor who addressed the school board Wednesday night and blamed them for the May 24 tragedy. “If it was one of your children, heads would be rolling right now. But because it’s not, you don’t care!” he said. “You are not going to sweep this under the rug…all of you are accountable.”
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Hyde responded to public criticisms of Arredondo by saying that the shooter died on May 24th, so the grieving public would naturally seek out another blame. “Certainly, and without question, the only person responsible for this tragedy is the shooter himself,” Hyde said. “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.”
“Chief Arredondo respectfully asks those who feel as if they have lost everything, and those like him, who lost family members and friends in this tragedy, to take a moment of pause to contemplate and consider the actions they are taking and determine how, whatever goal one seeks, achieving that goal is not going to change anything for those grieving, except increase their numbers.”
Hyde repeated an assertion in the Tribune in June, that Arredondo “could not have served as the incident commander and did not attempt to take that role as he was at the front line of the incident.”
School shooting protocols state that the incident commander is usually the first officer of law enforcement to reach the site. Steven McCraw (Texas Department of Public Safety Director) has stated that Arredondo was the incident commandant on the scene. Hyde, in his press release, said that the “incident” began when the gunman shot his grandmother off campus, and continued on to crash his car near Robb Elementary.
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“Incident Command obligations…fell upon several law enforcement agencies before and during the horrific events inside the hallway, which had nothing to do with the district of Chief Arredondo,” Hyde said. “Director McCraw’s off-the-cuff comments, pointing the finger at Chief Arredondo after recognizing the faults of his own officers, was a smoke screen attempt to ‘blame the Mexican’! Und who was more vulnerable? The School District Police because of the size of the department and the generally poor reputation school district police have in some communities.”
Ultimately, Hyde concludes, “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.”
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