In Uvalde, proximity complicates the accountability of shooting

Uvalde, Texas (AP) — After being slaughtered at Rob Elementary School in Uvalde in May, Jesse Reso was worried about his old friend, police chief Pete Aledondo.

When Reso sent a text message to him a few days after the shooting, the unsuccessful police response was largely directed at Aledondo.

Two months later, spotlight the survey and body camera video Hesitate and unplanned response Police killing 2 teachers and 19 students, Reso continues to worry about Aledondo. He also wants him to be fired.

Reso’s complex emotions towards Uvalde High School classmates capture the type of mixed emotions that the victim’s family and many residents of this close community are navigating as they direct their sorrow and anger to the demands of change. I am.

“I care about Pete. I care that he’s mentally okay. I don’t want humans to start losing it,” said distantly related Reso. 9 year old girl A person killed in Rob Elementary. “But I also want to be accountable to those who aren’t doing their job properly.”

Related Video: Uvalde Board of Education Considering Dismissal of Police Chief

Aledondo, 50, who was one of the first co-pilots on the scene as the head of a small police station in the school district, took a lot of responsibility for not immediately attacking the classroom and not confronting the shooters. .. He has not responded to repeated requests for comments from the Associated Press.

This week, the Uvalde Board of Education Suddenly scheduled a meeting to discuss firing Arredondo, just cancel after a few days. As authorities consider options, residents are impatient with unanswered calls to hold people accountable for 77 minutes of tremendous omission by nearly 400 police officers in response to school shootings. ..

However, the mere possibility of his dismissal after months of resistance from local officials stands as evidence of the growing political influence of the victim’s family.

Tensions about how to move forward can be seen in the signs that appear throughout the city. “Uvalde United.” “Uvalde must stand together.” Those signs have different meanings depending on who you ask, but other signs are more pointed out: “Prosecute Pete Arredondo”.

Family ties and political struggles date back generations in Uvalde, a community where nearly three-quarters of the population is Hispanic. The locals had great respect for the police before the shooting. Uvalde leaders, many of whom are white, share the church’s pew with their most intense critics. And claiming accountability can mean seeking a job for your friend, neighbor, or employer.

Michael Ortiz, a local university professor who moved to Uvalde 13 years ago, said it was a difficult city for many to speak out because of its “power structure” and “unwritten rules.” Most of the community is an infeasible method for many working class inhabitants.

“Someone’s boss may not like it,” Ortiz said. “They are even afraid to march.”

Since the shooting, most Hispanic parents of the victims have struggled to get their demands to the city or school district. Local authorities initially resisted disclosure of information and calls to firefighters. But things are changing.

As a sign of increased political activity, more than 300 people have registered to vote for Uvalde since the shooting. This is more than double the number of the same period in the last midterm election season. And in July, more than 100 protesters bravely confronted the heat of 106 degrees, tightening gun control (including raising the minimum age to purchase assault weapons), and local and state investigating shootings. Called for greater transparency from the authorities.

This was the largest local demonstration since 1970 when the school district refused to renew the contract for the popular Rob Elementary School teacher. Prompted for one of Texas’s longest school strikes It exceeds the demand for equal education for Mexican-American residents. The teacher’s son is Ronnie Garza, Uvalde County Commissioner.

According to Garza, the shooting changed the community and united people in sorrow, but separated them on accountability issues. “We are desperate people now. We are screaming that way here. May we hear what we say and come and help us, we ( I’m screaming in other ways), “Garza said.

Faced with incomplete and contradictory explanations from local and state law enforcement agencies, the families of those killed in Uvalde began to listen.

After a state legislator makes the following abominable report: “Systemic disorders and terribly poor decision-making” By both police and school officials, the Uvalde Board of Education held a special session to hear from parents. Director Hull Harrell apologized for not letting the victim’s family say his work, which was previously “too formal.”

“I wasn’t successful in trying to find the right balance at the right time,” said white Harrell, who spoke in a lecture hall named after his father, who was also the director.

For the next three hours, sad parents and community members blamed the board for losing their jobs if they weren’t accountable to the people. Some told Harrell that he didn’t protect his father’s legacy, while others mentioned the 1970 lockout and were applauded and wanted to do better. People urged state soldiers standing on the edge of the room to dismiss and ridicule police throughout the school.

Reso, who attended the meeting, said he could not respect how the police chief and many other police officers he knew handled the day’s work. “It has consequences,” he said. “I don’t understand why he doesn’t resign.”

However, the long history between them is also pulled by Reso. In a text he sent to Aledondo a few days after the shooting, he said, “Be strong and be patient.”

Aledondo replied: Thank you and keep praying for your baby. Since then, they haven’t spoken.


For more information on AP coverage for Uvalde School Shooting, please see: