Mariano Pargas, who came under scrutiny for his handling of the deadly Texas school shooting, has asked to resign.
The Uvalde police officer who headed the U.S. city’s police department resigned amid law enforcement’s hesitant response to an elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, the city said. spokesperson said.
Mariano Pargas retired Thursday afternoon after working for the city for 18 years, according to spokesperson Gina Eisenberg. said.
Pergas is the second police leader to leave law enforcement since the May killing, when hundreds of officers waited more than an hour inside a classroom at Robb Elementary School to confront the shooter. It comes ahead of Saturday’s meeting when the city council was due to consider his removal.
Pargas could not be reached for comment. He previously told CNN that his lawyers have instructed him not to speak publicly, but “there are so many things I can explain…I want to defend myself.”
Following dismal reports from lawmakers about the police response, the city suspended Pargas, who ran the department during the shootings, in July because Mayor Daniel Rodriguez was out of town.
His departure comes days after new audio highlighted that Pargus was told that children were alive in a classroom with the shooter, half an hour before officers broke into the room.
Months after the shooting, state officials focused the blame on school district police chief Pete Arredondo, saying he had made a “terrible decision” as field commander not to immediately confront the shooter.
Arredondo, who was fired in August, said he never thought he was in charge and thought someone else was in control of the police response, and was eventually killed by nearly 400 officers. swelled up.
Recordings released by CNN showed police gathering around the school, and a dispatcher told Pergus that “eight to nine” children were still alive inside the classroom where the attackers were trapped. said there is. Pargus is heard confirming the information, but it takes over half an hour before the tactical team breaks in and kills the gunman.
Authorities say the shooter fired most of the shots within minutes of entering the classroom, but it’s unclear if there are official counts of how many children who were in the room survived.
Corina Camacho, whose son was shot but survived, told The Associated Press that none of the 11 children were killed and that the families are in contact. Publicly speaking of pretending to be dead.
In addition to Pargas’ retirement and Arredondo’s dismissal, the victims’ families and some legislators are calling for the resignation or dismissal of Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) head Steve McCraw.
Body camera footage, legislative investigations and media reports indicate that state police played a bigger role at the scene than police seem to suggest in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Among the 376 law enforcement officers who eventually responded were 91 DPS troopers. Seven people have been subject to internal investigations since the attack, but McCraw defends the agency’s overall response, saying Uvalde “didn’t fail.”
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Uvalde County Commission, members of the community called on Pargas to resign from the commission. reported.
Berlinda Arreola, whose 10-year-old granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza was murdered, said Pargas needed to do the “right thing” and resign, according to CNN.
“He was a coward that day, and now he is so cowardly that he cannot show his face,” said Areola.
At a school board meeting that same day, Josh Gutierrez was named interim police chief for the Uvalde School District. Gutierrez leads a handful of police officers hired since the shooting. His five officers involved in the law enforcement response were assigned other duties pending an investigation into the day’s actions.
Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson held a meeting to talk about the courage shown by the families of the victims. Patterson will succeed Hal Harrell, who announced his plans to retire last month.
Patterson said, “The world has a lot of respect for how you handled things in the worst possible circumstances.
The school district board on Wednesday also approved the location of a new school to replace Robb Elementary School and decided to build it next to another school a few kilometers away. and recommended that a committee be formed to decide what should happen to the site on Wednesday.