In a dramatic move made under growing pressure, the Uvalde City Council vowed this week to investigate “every single officer” involved in the response to the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
The council appointed Jesse Prado, a former Austin police detective, to interview each officer who responded to the scene.
Council member Ernest “Chip” King III announced that the body will “get a report on everybody.” Further, he promised that “we will act on it.” Another council member, Everardo “Lalo” Zamora, said the town owes it “to the families, we want to get it right.”
The meeting was filled with tension as several family members of victims and the community at large called for all city police officers on the scene that day to be suspended. Some demanded desk duty to be implemented until the investigation concludes. It is expected to take at least two months.
Council members also passed a resolution asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to push the Texas Legislature towards a special session. The goal would be to raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic AR-15-style rifles from 18 to 21. The shooter had just reached his 18th birthday.
The second-deadliest shooting at an American K-12 school in history left 19 elementary students and two teachers dead. Criticism has rained down ever since on the 77-minute delay between the first shots being fired and the classroom door finally being breached.
An interim report from the Texas House cited “egregious systematic failures” in the time wasted before engaging the 18-year-old shooter.
The Uvalde Police Department has 39 officers, of whom 25 were at the shooting scene in May. Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the department’s acting chief that day, is already on administrative leave.
The Uvalde School Board placed district police chief Pete Arredondo on administrative leave last month, and calls have gotten louder for his firing. The school board was to meet last Saturday and possibly terminate Arrendondo, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute.
It has not been rescheduled.
Much of the early criticism centered on Arredondo for not taking command. In recent weeks, however, the blame has spread to others as well. The Texas Department of Public Safety is also leading a criminal investigation into the actions — and inactions — on that horrific day.