UVALDE, Texas—After listening to the pleas of parents and residents about the botched response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, the Uvalde city council unanimously denied permission for their newest member, Pete Arredondo, to take an extended leave of absence from meetings.
Arredondo is also the police chief for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and has been heavily criticized for his role in the response to the May 24 massacre.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire in Robb Elementary School. He wounded 17 other people in the prolonged attack.
The school board had opted to take no action against Arredondo until June 22 when the superintendent placed him on administrative leave.
"Please, we're begging—get this man out of our lives," Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of slain Amerie Jo Garza, implored the council members.
Arredondo, who wasn't present at the meeting, was elected just two weeks prior to the mass shooting. He was sworn into the position during a closed-door ceremony on May 31.
Jasmine Cazares, sister of murdered 9-year-old Jacklyn Cazares, said, "If he truly wanted to be respectful, he would step down."
If a member misses three consecutive public meetings without a leave of absence, the city council has the option to declare the seat vacated and hold a special election to fill it.
Uvalde's Mayor Don McLaughlin confirmed that the June 21 meeting was the first one Arredondo has officially missed.
McLaughlin also indicated that he would support the removal of Arredondo if the latter misses the next two meetings.
Resident Kim Hammond said she and others in Arredondo's district had already looked into submitting a recall petition.
"We had so much enthusiasm in it right away," Hammond said.
But a recall petition can only be enacted once a member has been in office for eight months.
"I implore you, do not give him that leave of absence," she said to the council.
After the mayor and four councillors voted unanimously to deny Arredondo's request for leave, about 50 residents burst into applause.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for June 28.