The Uvalde school board voted unanimously on Wednesday night to immediately fire police chief Pete Arredondo over the disastrous response to the shooting at Robb Elementary earlier this year that resulted in the deaths of 19 children.
The disgraced police chief refused to attend the meeting because he was scared for his safety.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District had already recommended that Arredondo be fired.
“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,” Arredondo’s attorney George Hyde, said in a statement.
The board deliberated for over an hour Wednesday evening before making its decision. Community members reportedly reacted with applause when the board announced its decision to fire Arredondo.
Uvalde citizens have waited weeks for the decision after the first meeting to consider Arredondo’s firing was canceled last month, just two days after the recommendation to fire the police chief was placed on the agenda.
Arredondo was placed on leave last month as criticism against him mounted when more details came out on the police response to the shooting in which a lone gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. Nearly 400 law enforcement officers responded to the scene of the shooting, but the shooter remained in the classroom for 77 minutes before officers breached the door and killed him.
Recently released footage of the school’s hallway showed officers standing outside the classroom for over an hour while the shooter was still in the classroom with the victims, some of whom were still alive and calling 911 for help.
Body cam footage obtained by CNN also showed Arredondo attempting to negotiate with the shooter from down the hall, The Daily Wire previously reported.
“Let me know if there’s any kids there or anything!” Arredondo said on tape. “This can be peaceful!”
In early June, Arredondo spoke with the Texas Tribune, addressing some of the criticisms of his response and claiming officers acted appropriately.
“Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children,” Arredondo said. “We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced. Our objective was to save as many lives as we could, and the extraction of the students from the classrooms by all that were involved saved over 500 of our Uvalde students and teachers before we gained access to the shooter and eliminated the threat.”
The UCISD police chief also told the Tribune that when he arrived on scene, he did not consider himself the commanding officer, even though his department was the first to arrive. Arredondo further claimed that no one told him that students in the classroom were calling 911 as the shooter continued his killing.
Zach Jewell contributed to this report.
This article was updated after publication to include additional information.