Uvalde victims' parents call for police chief's resignation at emotional school board meeting

'I pray that you make the right decision,' one parent said.

ByTonya Simpson, Laura Romero and Olivia Osteen ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Families of Uvalde shooting victims call for answers
Almost a month after the deadly shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead, the families of victims are still waiting for answers.

UVALDE, Texas -- The parents of victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting and other members of the community called for the resignation of embattled school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo at an emotional meeting of the Uvalde, Texas, school board Monday night.

The board's monthly meeting came nearly a month after the attack that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

"Having Pete still employed, knowing he is incapable of decision-making that saves lives is terrifying," said Brett Cross, the uncle of student Uziyah Garcia, who died in the shooting. "Innocence doesn't hide, innocence doesn't change its story, but innocence did die on May 24."

MORE: Teacher who survived Uvalde shooting calls police 'cowards,' says he will 'never forgive them'

Fourth-grade teacher Arnulfo Reyes was wounded but survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He shared his story with ABC News.

Scores of law enforcement officers responded to the shooting on May 24, with 19 of them waiting 77 minutes in the hallway outside the classroom containing the gunman, after Arredondo, the incident commander, wrongly believed that the situation had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject, law enforcement has said.

"At one point or another you're going to have to draw a line in the sand to decide if you hold one of your own accountable," said Jesus Rizo Jr. "Pete, Mr. Arredondo, is also my friend. I'm sure we all got along with him. At one point or another, we're going to have to decide if we hold them accountable. And I pray that you make the right decision."

"Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children," Arredondo told The Texas Tribune on June 9. "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."

SEE ALSO: Uvalde police who delayed entry into school during shooting were waiting for protective gear, official says

Sources tell ABC News that, in a preliminary assessment, state investigators believe that Uvalde officers delayed entry into Robb Elementary School because they were waiting for protective gear to arrive.

Uvalde school board meetings typically allow up to 15 minutes total for public comment, but board members expanded the timetable for Monday's meeting.

A number of attendees held "Fire Pete Arredondo" signs as they stood at the side of the auditorium.

Among those at the meeting was Lyliana Garcia, 16, who lost both her parents as a result of the attack. Her mother was Irma Garcia, one of the teachers who died during the shooting, and her father was Joe Garcia, who died of a heart attack two days later.

WATCH: How law enforcement narrative of Uvalde mass shooting changed

Authorities in Texas have come under scrutiny for the shifting narrative about crucial elements of the police response, ABC News reports.

"The horrifying manner in which my mother was murdered and taken from us completely shattered our hearts, but made my dad's stop," Garcia said. "There shouldn't have been a reason my mom didn't come home that day."

Garcia said she's now trying to fill the shoes of both parents -- a burden no one her age should have.

"The table we once sat at with absolute joy and laughter is now quiet and has two empty seats," she said.

Uvalde School District officials have not responded to multiple questions from ABC News regarding Arredondo's employment status.

SEE ALSO: Mass shootings in the U.S. have nearly tripled since 2013, data shows

ABC News talks to experts who examine America's history with guns, the real-life impacts of gun violence and what can be done going forward to mitigate the problem.
The number of people injured or killed does not include the suspect or perpetrator. These graphics show the number of victims across all mass shootings from the last five years.