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UVALDE — Uvalde school officials have fired a recently hired district police officer after it became public that he was one of the first state troopers to arrive at Robb Elementary when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24.
Crimson Elizondo is one of at least five current or former Department of Public Safety officers being investigated by the agency for their response to the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, CNN reported Wednesday.
Elizondo, who responded to the shooting within minutes of being a state trooper, left his DPS job and was hired by the school district’s police department. Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters Thursday at a campaign stop in New Braunfels that the school district asked DPS about Elizondo. Abbott said the agency told the school district she had “conduct contrary to training and department requirements.”
“So the school district had full information about the person they chose to go ahead and hire, and it’s up to the school district — not DPS, no one else — to own up to the bad decision they made,” Abbott said.
Law enforcement officials from local and state agencies have come under fire for waiting more than an hour to confront the Robb Elementary gunman, a response that ignores normal active shooter training. A Texas House committee investigation faulted the law enforcement response, finding that hundreds of officers responded in a disorganized and uncoordinated manner. They lacked clear leadership, basic communications and sufficient urgency, the committee’s report said.
It was unclear Thursday if Elizondo was one of two DPS officers suspended with pay while the agency investigates. DPS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
In on-body camera footage from the day of the shooting, Elizondo responded to another officer who asked if he had children at school: “I wouldn’t have come out if my son was there. I promise you that. “
District spokeswoman Anne Marie Espinosa said in a statement Thursday that the audio was “not consistent with the district’s expectations” and that Elizondo was “removed from her position.”
“We are deeply troubled by the information disclosed yesterday evening about one of our recently hired employees, Crimson Elizondo,” Espinosa said. “We sincerely apologize to the victim’s families and the greater Uvalde community for the pain this revelation has caused.”
Former Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, one of the first officers on the scene and the designated incident commander for the district’s active-shooter plan, has taken much of the blame for the haphazard law enforcement response. Arredondo was suspended by the district on June 22 and fired on August 24. The district is also investigating the district officers who responded to the shooting.
After the massacre, parents and relatives of the 19 children and two teachers demanded that all responding officers be held accountable.
On September 27, Bret Cross, the legal guardian and uncle of 10-year-old Uzziah Garcia, who was killed in the massacre, began a protest outside the school district’s administration building. Other parents joined him as they camped outside for several days. Cross and some other parents who joined him at his vigil said the school district wants the school police officers suspended without pay to determine whether it was reasonable for the officers to wait more than an hour to enter the classroom.
After CNN’s report, parents stepped up their protest by blocking the entrances to the school district’s administration building.
“Either they knew about it and didn’t say anything because they didn’t care, or they were just ignorant. So they shouldn’t be in the process of hiring people because if they can’t do their due diligence they’re not doing their job right,” Cross said Thursday outside the school administration building.
Jinitzail Hernandez and Patrick Switek contributed to this report.