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Pressure has been building for accountability after a disastrous police response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But on Wednesday, the school board fired Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo who, who had already been suspended without pay. The decision came three months after the massacre at Robb Elementary School. Geoff Bennett reports.
Pressure has been building for accountability after a disastrous police response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Last night, the school board fired Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who had already been suspended without pay.
Geoff Bennett has the story.
Caitlyne Gonzalez, Robb Elementary Student:
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!
A child's plea at the Uvalde School Board meeting last night. Roughly 100 students, survivors and parents crowded into a school board meeting carrying signs and bearing the weight of loss.
Daniel Myers, Uvalde Pastor:
If it was one of your children, heads would be rolling right now.
Arredondo didn't attend, citing safety concerns, prompting this reaction from an uncle of one of the victims.
Brett Cross, Uncle and Guardian of Uziyah Garcia: Nobody has threatened him. That's all I'm going to say on that.
Through his attorney, Arredondo asked to be taken off of suspension and given back pay. In a closed-door session that lasted nearly an hour-and-a-half, the school board voted unanimously to fire Arredondo for his role in the botched response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in May.
Pete Arredondo, Former Uvalde, Texas, Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief:
At approximately 11:32 a.m. this morning, there was a mass casualty incident at Robb Elementary School in Texas.
Twenty-one people were killed on May 24, 19 students and two teachers. Arredondo was one of the first officers on the scene.
It took more than an hour for law enforcement to confront the 18-year-old gunman, despite nearly 400 local, state and federal police responding. Video from that day shows officers armed with shields and weapons as parents pleaded for more action from authorities.
Arredondo's attorney did not immediately respond to "NewsHour"'s requests for comment, but, in a 17-page statement released before the board meeting, defended Arredondo's role, insisting he saved as many lives as he could with the resources available.
But many of the family say Arredondo is to blame.
Vicente Salazar, Grandfather of Uvalde Shooting Victim: The termination was long coming. I think it should have been done immediately.
Tony Plohetski, The Austin-American Statesman:
What we're hearing from family members is that this is in fact bringing a measure of solace to them.
Journalist Tony Plohetski of The Austin-American Statesman is reporting on the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting.
This is such a turning point for the community, because it is the first time we have truly seen anyone be held accountable for the flawed law enforcement response. In this case, we're seeing the chief pay for it with his job.
And it may not only be Arredondo.
It is absolutely important to note that there were hundreds of law enforcement officials there from a variety of agencies, not only on the ground that day, but also inside the hallway of Robb Elementary School. This could possibly set the stage for other agencies to possibly bring about some sort of administrative sanctions, possibly terminations of those law enforcement officers.
On September 6, students will have their first day of school since the tragedy, but it won't be at Robb Elementary, and some parents say their children are still wary of returning.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Geoff Bennett.
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Geoff Bennett is the chief Washington correspondent for PBS NewsHour and anchor of PBS News Weekend.
Courtney Norris is the deputy senior producer of national affairs for the NewsHour. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @courtneyknorris
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