Uvalde detectives begin an investigation into the sheriff’s office, which lacked an active shooter policy prior to the massacre

County commissioners in Uvalde, Texas, voted 3-0 on Monday to open an independent review into the actions of responding sheriff’s deputies during the May Robb Elementary School massacre that killed 19 students and two teachers.

County Commissioner John Yeackle said the initiative is to ensure residents receive a comprehensive report they can rely on when it comes to how deputies from the sheriff’s office conducted themselves that day. The review will also look at the sheriff’s office’s policies and procedures, he said, noting that the office lacked an active shooter policy.

“We didn’t have an active shooter policy in the district. This is not surprising as many small communities never believe this will happen to them and do not have a written policy to that effect,” he said. “That will definitely be something that needs to be addressed in the future.”

Yeackle also said that based on previously released videos showing officers at the scene of the shooting, “nobody seemed to know who was responsible.”

At the meeting, some members of the public expressed frustration at the slow pace of investigations, as well as responses to what responding officials from multiple agencies did and did not do during the May 24 massacre.

Brett Cross, the father of Uziyah Garcia, 10, who died in the shooting, spoke at the meeting. He said afterwards that police and officials were not held accountable.

“It’s a continuous slap in the face every day because nobody takes responsibility Nobody is,” he said. “Everybody wants to run and hide and blame him and blame him. The fact is, the city has let us down. The school disappointed us. This district let us down.”

Cross and others speaking during Monday’s meeting were highly critical of District Commissioner Mariano Pargas, who was absent from the vote.

Cross said at the meeting: “We have a district commissioner who was there who did nothing. And he still has his position. He didn’t even show up today.”

Earlier this month, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced that Pargas, who is also acting Uvalde Police Chief, was put on leave as the city opened an investigation into his response and that of his officers.

In a statement, McLaughlin said the city’s investigation would “investigate whether Lt. Pargas was responsible for taking command on May 24th, which concrete measures Lt. Pargas took to set up this command and whether it was even feasible given all the authorities involved and other possible policy violations.”

Pargas could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday. No one from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office could be reached.

County Commissioner Ronald Garza told NBC News that it has yet to be determined which consulting firm will conduct the independent review.

The Uvalde Public School Board on Friday postponed a special meeting originally scheduled for Saturday to discuss the possible firing of its embattled police chief, Pete Arredondo.

The board cited Arredondo’s right to defend his actions during the mass shooting amid a disorganized law enforcement response by multiple agencies.

“In accordance with the requirements of due process and at the request of his attorney, the meeting to consider Chief Arredondo’s termination will be held at a later date to be determined,” District Spokesperson Anne Marie Espinoza said in a statement.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District placed Arredondo on paid leave on June 22 amid multiple investigations regarding the late law enforcement response.

On Monday, Ricardo G. Cedillo, an attorney for Robb Elementary school principal Mandy Gutierrez, confirmed that she had been placed on administrative leave by the district superintendent for reasons the principal did not disclose.

The school was criticized because a lock in obviously poor condition – it would not engage – could have allowed the shooter to enter the first classroom he occupied that day.

A Texas House committee report on the alleged failures of the police and school district before and during the attack said school officials knew about the lock but did not order repairs or replacements.

The campus was indeed home to a “culture of non-compliance,” with some teachers flouting the rules by keeping doors open rather than ensuring they were locked, the report said.

And when the school announced its lockdown during the attack, some teachers received late notifications because the campus had poor Wi-Fi, the legislative report said. Administrators could have used the campus intercom system, but that didn’t happen, according to the document.

A spokesman for the district did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

It took about 77 minutes between the first officers arriving and when police finally took down the shooter.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw has blamed Arredondo, who he says was the commander of the incident. Arredondo’s department has six sworn employees, but there were much larger agencies at the scene, including DPS and the US Border Patrol.

“There were many officers to do what needed to be done, except that the incident commander inside felt he needed more equipment and more officers to make a tactical breakthrough at that point,” McCraw told Three Days after the shooting.

Arredondo has defended himself, saying he didn’t know he was supposed to be the squad leader and that he went into the classroom where shots were fired where he thought he could help.

However, he left his radios behind and stood by when a key to a classroom door was sought, which took up valuable time.

In early July, Arredondo resigned his elected seat on the city council about a month after he was sworn in.

That legislative report also found “systemic errors and egregiously poor decision-making” by law enforcement and the school district.

“The scene was chaotic with no one person apparently responsible or directing the law enforcement response,” it noted.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/uvalde-commissioners-launch-review-sheriffs-office-lacked-active-shoot-rcna39864 Uvalde detectives begin an investigation into the sheriff’s office, which lacked an active shooter policy prior to the massacre

Fry Electronics Team

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