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Uvalde’s acting police chief at the time of the school shooting is resigning

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

According to city spokeswoman Gina Eisenberg, Lt. Mariano Pargas left the department voluntarily, but it was not immediately clear if he resigned or resigned.

Pargas is the second police chief to lose his job since the massacre in May, when hundreds of officers waited more than an hour to confront a gunman in a classroom at Robo Elementary School.

The city placed Pargas, who ran the department at the time of the shooting because Chief Daniel Rodriguez was out of town, on administrative leave in July after a damning report from lawmakers about the police response. His departure comes days after a new audio recording said Pargas was told there were children alive in the classroom with the gunman half an hour before officers burst into the room.

In the months since the shooting, state officials have placed the blame on school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, saying he made “terrible decisions” as an on-scene commander not to confront the gunman sooner. Arredondo was fired in August, but said he did not believe he was the man in charge and suggested someone else took control of the police response, which eventually grew to nearly 400 officers.

Audio recordings released by CNN show that as officers gathered around the school, a dispatcher told Pargas that “eight to nine” children were still alive in the classroom where the shooter had taken refuge. Pargas can be heard confirming the information, but it was more than 30 minutes before the tactical team entered and killed the gunman.

Authorities said the gunman fired most of his gunfire minutes after entering the classroom, but it was unclear whether there was an official count of how many children in the room survived. Corina Camacha, whose son was shot and was one of the survivors, told The Associated Press that the 11 children were not killed and their families are trying to stay in touch. Children have publicly said they played dead to avoid being spotted by a gunman.

In addition to the removals of Pargas and Arredondo, victims’ families and some lawmakers have called in recent months for the resignation or firing of Col. Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Footage from body cameras, a legislative investigation and media reports indicated that state police played a larger role at the scene than the department seemed to assume in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Ninety-one DPS troopers were among the 376 law enforcement officers who eventually responded. The seven were the subject of an internal investigation this summer, but McCraw defended his agency’s overall response, saying he “did not fail” Uwald.


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