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On the day of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Acting Police Chief Lt. Mariano Pargas resigned from the Uvalde Police Department on Thursday, days before city leaders decided his fate.
Pargas has been with the department for 18 years and announced his retirement Thursday, said Gina Eisenberg, president of The Eisenberg Group, a communications firm that represents the Uvalde mayor’s office.
The Uvalde City Council decided to discuss Pargas’ dismissal at a special meeting on Saturday.
Livesrobed, an organization formed by individuals and families of victims of the Uvalde massacre, said Pargas chose to continue to show his “lack of character” nearly six months after the shooting.
“It’s bad timing,” the group said. “177 days ago, Lt. Mariano Pargas showed a complete lack of courage and leadership in presiding over one of the worst law enforcement failures in American history for the Uvalde Police Department.”
Pargas was among about 400 law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24, but waited more than an hour to bring down the gunman. 19 students and two teachers died.
Pargas’ exit marks the end of the fallout from the shooting. School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired Aug. 24 after being widely criticized for a lack of law enforcement coordination and a slow response. Then in October, Hal Harrell, who was superintendent during the shooting, retired after months of backlash. School District Safety Policies.
During Wednesday evening’s Uvalde School Board meeting, trustees unanimously named Josh Gutierrez as the school district’s interim executive director of safety and security and police chief. Gutierrez previously worked with Gary Patterson, Uvalde’s interim superintendent, in Bexar County’s East Central Independent School District.
Pargas was placed on leave in July after a Texas House report showed several law enforcement agencies had mishandled Uvalde’s response. Pargas’ suspension is the first sign of an official fallout.
Pargas’ firing comes after a CNN report released Monday showed that “eight to nine” children were said to be alive in classrooms at Robb Elementary, but failed to organize help.
Reporter William Melhado contributed to this story.