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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The officer who was in charge of the Uvalde Police Department on the day of the school shooting has resigned

A city spokeswoman announced on Thursday that a lieutenant who had been acting as the chief of police in Uvalde, Texas, during the shooting at Robb Elementary School had resigned. The lieutenant’s actions have been called into question following the release of video footage showing that he did not order officers to quickly breach the classrooms. His resignation comes amid questions about his actions.

When a shooter opened fire inside the school, 19 students and two teachers were killed. The lieutenant in command of the Uvalde Police Department at the time, Mariano Pargas Jr., was in control of the department while the chief was away on vacation. During the summer, Mr. Pargas was put on administrative leave, and a special meeting of the Uvalde City Council was scheduled to take place on Saturday with the intention of discussing the possibility of terminating his employment.

The spokesperson, Gina Eisenberg, said in an email that Lieutenant Pargas will be retiring “effective immediately.” It was possible for him to retire. For eighteen years, Pargas was of service to the city of Uvalde.

On May 24, Mr. Pargas was one of the first cops to enter the school after a shooting had begun in a pair of linked classrooms. The shooting took place at the school.

However, footage from surveillance cameras and officers’ body cameras showed that Mr. Pargas quietly waited and did not attempt to organise officers to re-engage with the gunman after the latter fired at officers, which caused them to retreat from the classroom doors. This was the case despite the fact that Mr. Pargas was in charge of the city’s police force at the time.

More than an hour would pass before agents from the Border Patrol would enter the classrooms, confront the shooter, and ultimately end his life.

Mr. Pargas stated before an investigative committee of the Texas State House that he believed that Pete Arredondo, the chief of the Uvalde school district police, had jurisdiction over the incident and had been coordinating the response, which eventually grew to include hundreds of officers from more than a dozen agencies. Mr. Pargas stated that he believed that Mr. Arredondo had been coordinating the response.

In addition to Mr. Arredondo, the committee pointed the finger of blame at Mr. Pargas for failing to coordinate with other agencies. At response to a phone call from the police chief on vacation, Daniel Rodriguez, who instructed Mr. Pargas to establish a command post, Mr. Pargas made an effort to do so in a funeral house that is located across from the school. According to the report that was put together by the committee in July, “this did not result in the construction of a functional command post.”

According to the findings of the committee, Mr. Pargas was there early on in the hostage situation when a Uvalde school officer named Ruben Ruiz alerted the police inside the school that Mr. Pargas’s wife had been among those shot but was still alive in the classrooms. Officer Ruiz reportedly informed them, “She claims she is shot,” in the report that was given to them by the committee.

CNN broadcast footage on Monday showing that Mr. Pargas subsequently heard of a 911 call made by a youngster who was inside one of the classrooms. The child informed police dispatchers that numerous students were alive inside the classroom with the shooter. Mr. Pargas also later learned of this information.

A request for comment was made to Mr. Pargas, but he did not immediately answer. According to the report that was compiled by the committee, he said that he had been waiting for soldiers who were equipped with superior gear, such as shields.

At least six other officers, including a Department of Public Safety trooper named Crimson Elizondo, who remained outside as officers entered the school minutes after the shooting began are currently the subject of an ongoing internal investigation that is being conducted by the Department of Public Safety.

During the summer, Ms. Elizondo accepted a position with the Uvalde School District Police Department, so she could be closer to her family. The school district decided to terminate her after receiving complaints from a number of parents.

Mr. Maldonado and Ms. Elizondo have not replied to calls for comment.

Mr. Pargas serves not only as a member of the Uvalde Police Department, but also as a member of the Uvalde County Commission, a post to which he was just re-elected as a Democrat earlier this month.

Despite facing write-in challenges, including one from Javier Cazares, whose nine-year-old daughter Jackie was killed in the elementary school massacre, he was able to win the election. Jackie Cazares was a victim of the shooting.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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