Texas State Police fire first officer over Uvalde’s response

The Texas Department of Public Safety fired an officer who was at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre on Friday, becoming the first member of state police to lose his job in the aftermath of the faltering response to the attack. May.

The department served Sgt. Juan Maldonado with termination papers, spokeswoman Ericka Miller said. No details were offered about his role at the scene of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School or the specific reason Maldonado was fired.

The firing comes five months after the mass shooting that has put state police under scrutiny for their actions on the school campus when a man armed with an AR-15-style rifle killed 19 children and two teachers.

Maldonado could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Body camera footage and media reports have shown that the Department of Public Safety had a larger role at the scene than it seemed to suggest after the shooting. State troopers were among the first wave of officers to arrive but did not immediately confront the gunman, which experts say goes against standard police procedure during mass shootings.

Instead, it was more than 70 minutes before officers finally stormed a fourth-grade classroom and killed the gunman, ending one of the deadliest school attacks in US history. Nearly 400 officers in total eventually made their way to the scene, including state troopers, Uvalde police, school officers, and US Border Patrol agents.

Seven Department of Public Safety officers were placed under internal investigation this summer after a damning report by lawmakers revealed that the state police have more than 90 officers on the scene, more than any other agency.

Steve McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety, called the law enforcement response an “abject failure” but blamed primarily former Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was fired in August and can be seen on body camera video searching in vain for a key to the classroom door that may have been open all along.

But the mayor of Uvalde, the parents of the victims and some lawmakers have accused the Department of Public Safety of trying to downplay its own failings.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde, reacted to news of the firing by saying accountability in the department shouldn’t end there.

“Ninety more are missing, plus the DPS director,” he said.

Gutierrez has sued the department in an effort to obtain documents about the response to the shooting. Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, have also asked the courts to compel Uvalde authorities and officials to release records under public information laws.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is up for re-election in November, endorsed McCraw, saying during a debate in September that there needed to be “enforcement accountability at every level.” An Abbott spokesman did not return messages seeking comment on the firing.

One of the state troopers under internal investigation was Crimson Elizondo, who resigned and was later hired by Uvalde Schools to work as a campus police officer. He was fired less than 24 hours after outraged parents in Uvalde learned of his hiring.


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas:


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