Uvalde Police Chief Resigns Due to Officers' Delayed Response to Robb Elementary School Shooting

Uvalde Police Chief Resigns Due To Officers’ Delayed Response To Robb Elementary School Shooting

DALLAS, Texas — The Uvalde officer who led the city’s police department during law enforcement’s faltering response to an elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers has resigned, a DALLAS spokeswoman said. city.

Lt. Mariano Pargas retired Thursday after 18 years with the city, according to spokeswoman Gina Eisenberg. He said his retirement is immediate, but the city is still processing the paperwork.

Pargas is the second police chief to leave law enforcement after the massacre in May, when hundreds of officers waited more than an hour to confront the gunman inside a classroom at Robb Elementary School. His removal comes ahead of a meeting scheduled for Saturday at which the city council planned to consider firing him.

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Pargas could not immediately be reached for comment. He previously told CNN that his lawyer instructed him not to speak publicly, but “there are many things I can explain that I would love to defend.”

Pargas was running the department during the shooting because the police chief, Daniel Rodríguez, was out of town. He was placed on administrative leave in July following a damning report from lawmakers about the police response. His departure comes days after new audio showed Pargas was informed that there were children alive in a classroom with the gunman half an hour before officers finally entered the room.

In the months since the shooting, state authorities have blamed the school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, saying he made “terrible decisions” as a commander on the scene by not confronting the gunman sooner. Arredondo was fired in August, but has said he did not see himself as the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the police response. The police presence at the school reached almost 400 agents from various departments on the day of the massacre.

Audio recordings released by CNN show that as officers massed around the school, an operator told Pargas there were “eight or nine” children alive inside the classroom where the shooter had taken refuge. Pargas is heard acknowledging the information, but more than 30 minutes passed before a tactical team entered and killed the attacker.

Authorities have said the shooter fired most of his shots within minutes of entering the classroom, but it’s unclear if there is an official tally of how many children in the classroom survived.

In addition to Pargas’ retirement and Arredondo’s removal, families of the victims and some lawmakers have called in recent months for the resignation or firing of Colonel Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Recordings from body cameras, a legislative investigation and media reports have shown that state police played a larger role at the scene than the department appeared to imply shortly after the shooting.

Among the 376 law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, there were 91 DPS officers. Seven were subjected to an internal investigation in the middle of the year, but McCraw has defended the agency’s overall response to him, saying it “didn’t fail” Uvalde.

At a Wednesday meeting of the Uvalde County City Council, community members called for Pargas to resign from the panel. Pargas, who was re-elected to county government on November 8, was not present at the meeting, the Uvalde Leader-News reported.

Berlinda Arreola, whose 10-year-old granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza was killed at Robb Elementary, said Pargas had to do “the right thing” and resign, according to CNN.

“He was a coward that day and he is a coward now, who couldn’t show his face,” Arreola said.

For their part, school district trustees also approved Wednesday the location of the new school that will replace Robb Elementary, which will be built next to another school a few miles away. The board decided months ago to demolish Robb Elementary, and on Wednesday recommended the formation of a committee to decide what should happen to the site.

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