Acting police chief during Uvalde school shooting quits in wake of criticism

(UVALDE, Texas) — Lt. Mariano Pargas, Uvalde’s acting police chief during the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, has resigned from the department effective immediately in the wake of criticism over his actions during the massacre, Mayor Don McLaughlin said.

He had been suspended pending an investigation into his conduct during the response to the shooting on May 24.

Pargas was offered a retirement package last week, however, as a result of the media coverage earlier this week surrounding his actions during the shooting, the city rescinded it and was planning to fire him. He resigned before they could fire him.

The Uvalde City Council had set a special meeting for Saturday to discuss his employment status.

On Tuesday, several Uvalde residents urged Pargas to resign at a Uvalde county commissioners meeting.

“You’ve brought shame to the community,” said Jesse Rizo, the uncle of Jackie Cazares, one of 19 children killed in the shooting.

Pargas is a commissioner in addition to his role on the police force, but he was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

CNN reported earlier this week that Pargas had been informed of 911 calls from students inside the classrooms where the shooter was holed up. Despite being informed that students were still alive inside, he did not enter or lead officers into the classroom to rescue them.

Pargas is the latest officer to leave the force in the wake of the shooting.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired by the district this August.

The police response has been widely criticized since the early days after the shooting. A July investigative report by the Texas House of Representatives issued a scathing analysis of the police failures that day that resulted in it taking 77 minutes for law enforcement to enter the classroom and shoot 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

“The entirety of law enforcement and its training, preparation, and response shares systemic responsibility for many missed opportunities on that tragic day,” read the report’s conclusion.

“[One hundred seventy-seven] days ago, Lt. Mariano Pargas showed a complete lack of courage and leadership while he presided over the Uvalde Police Department during one of the worst law enforcement failures in American history,” wrote a group of victims’ families who call themselves Lives Robbed. “His lack of character is reinforced by his decision to wait until the eleventh hour to resign before he could be fired by the city in a seemingly desperate attempt to avoid accountability.”

Pargas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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