Uvalde, TEXAS – Despite a packed commissioner’s courtroom at the Uvalde County Courthouse Wednesday morning, one commissioner was missing from his seat — Precinct 2 Commissioner Mariano Pargas, who was re-elected Nov. 8.
Pargas was also the interim Uvalde police chief during the shooting at Robb Elementary that killed 19 students and two teachers. He was suspended over the summer after a report revealed he had failed law enforcement.
His absence is the first since the election.
Pargas is again under scrutiny after CNN reported this week that he knew children were still alive in the classroom where the gunman stayed for 77 minutes.
His absence came as no surprise to the families of the shooting victims or to Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell.
“I was told before the meeting that he would not be present. “I wasn’t officially notified, but I was kind of given … advance notice that he might not show up,” Mitchell said.
Pressure to replace Pargas as county commissioner has intensified since the release of the 911 recordings.
“The process of removing a county commissioner (or) any elected official at the county level requires filing a petition in district court,” Mitchell said. Any person can file a petition in the District Court. “It will be a process through the district court where the trial will be held in the district court. The commissioners court has no power to remove a commissioner or other elected official,” Mitchell said.
While families inside the commissioner’s courtroom demanded Pargas’ resignation, another top law enforcement official pressed for answers outside.
Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco was asked by reporters if he thought the response he gave on May 24 was adequate.
“Yes, I do,” Nolasco said.
The sheriff declined to answer questions about his exact activities at Robb Elementary.
“No response,” Nolasco repeated.
“(I am) not talking about the investigation. I’m talking about your message to the community you serve. Literally no words, no comment?,” KSAT 12 reporter Alicia Barrera asked.
“My sincere condolences to the family. I felt their loss. One of my representatives lost a child. And so it came home. Yes, it hit home. So my condolences, my sincere condolences to the family,” Nolasco said.
“Are you disappointed that they haven’t gotten any answers yet?” Barrera asked.
“Yes, there is some frustration, but whenever you look for things, you take the right channels of it,” Nolasco said.
Journalists asked Pargas if the way the scene was handled was correct. “Mm-hmm,” Nolasco said.
When asked why he kept quiet and didn’t talk to the families about what he saw, Nolasco cited the ongoing investigation.
“The investigation is on. I have cooperated with DPS. “I gave my statement and I was told I couldn’t comment anymore,” Nolasco said.
“Then who advises you not to speak?” Barrera asked.
“That’s it, guys,” Nolasco said, trying to avoid further questioning. “Again, you don’t know everything. A lot has happened. “
“Tell us what we don’t know, sir,” said another reporter.
Nolasco later said, “You don’t care about families. You are here for your ratings and that’s it.
However, some, including Jackie Casares’ uncle Jesse Rizzo, disagree.
“I’m glad it happened. I’m glad the cameras were on him. He has a lot to answer for. You know, there’s a lot of speculation,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo doesn’t agree that Nolasco’s response was adequate.
“Absolutely not. Try explaining that to people who have children in the cemetery,” Rizzo said.
Nolasco insisted he was not the incident commander on the day of the shooting.
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