The Uvalde school police department has been suspended, and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will instead provide coverage to the school district, district officials announced Friday.
“As a result of recent developments, Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller have been place on administrative leave, and the District has made the decision to suspend all activities of the Uvalde CISD Police Department for a period of time,” a statement from the district said.
Hernandez was acting district police chief. Mueller was director of student services and plans to retire. Officers still employed will fill other roles in the district, officials said.
The district has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide additional troopers for campus and extracurricular activities.
“We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition,” the statement said.
This decision come just days after a CNN investigation revealed that a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Crimson Elizondo — who is under investigation for a delayed response to the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24 — was hired as a Uvalde school district police officer just months after the rampage that left 19 children and two teachers dead. She was fired less than a day later following a whirlwind of criticism and anger from parents, district officials confirmed Thursday.
CNN reported that Elizondo had responded to the shooting within the first two minutes of the gunman entering the school and was among the 91 DPS officers who waited in the hallway for 77 minutes before confronting the shooter, while children inside the classroom frantically called 911 for help.
Crimson Elizondo audio captured in Uvalde featured on CNN
A video released by CNN on Thursday shows Elizondo arriving in her uniform with a handgun, and then again briefly in the hallway on another officer’s body camera footage. Later on the video, she can be heard on body camera footage talking to other officers after she was asked whether she had children at the school that day.
“If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside,” she said. “I promise you that.”
According to the CNN investigation, Elizondo quit her job with DPS over the summer and was hired by the Uvalde school district to protect children at Uvalde Elementary, where many of the survivors from Robb Elementary are now attending school.
More:A Uvalde shooting survivor can’t bear to return to school. She isn’t the only one.
Officers’ audio upsets parents of Uvalde school parents
The news sparked a wave of criticism and anger among Uvalde parents, including parents who lost their children in the massacre.
Kimberley Garcia, the mother of Amerie Garza who died in the shooting, criticized Elizondo on Twitter saying, “It wasn’t your baby, right? That’s why you didn’t go in ‘Officer Elizondo’? She was there within minutes? But her child wasn’t in there so it didn’t matter. My child was in there! My child was scared! She was in danger!”
“Those babies and two teachers were in there! McCraw resign now!” Garza’s mother wrote, referring to DPS Director Steven McCraw.
Gloria Cazares, Jackie Cazares’ mom, also shared criticism on Twitter saying, “This is proof that the Uvalde school district does not care about our children.”
Several other parents who lost children, including Lexi Rubio’s mom and Uziyah Garcia’s guardian, also expressed anger and frustration.
How Uvalde CISD is responding
The district on Thursday apologized for the decision and confirmed that Elizondo had been fired from her position with the district police.
“We are deeply distressed by the information that was disclosed yesterday evening concerning one of our recently hired employees, Crimson Elizondo,” the district said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize to the victims’ families and the greater Uvalde community for the pain this revelation has caused. Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is not consistent with the district’s expectations.”
Over the summer, officials with the Uvalde school district said the district planned to hire several more district police officers and security personnel as part of its school security improvements made in response to the shooting.
A special Texas House committee tasked with investigating the shooting determined that top-to-bottom failures combined to turn the May 24 attack into the worst school shooting in Texas history, including not having a specific officer to patrol Robb Elementary.
Five officers, including former Police Chief Pete Arredondo, made up the school police force.
Parents this summer called for their ouster, along with former Robb Elementary Principal Mandy Gutierrez, who was put on leave and then reassigned.
District officials said in the statement that they “continue to make personnel decisions based on verifiable information.” An independent investigation is underway to evaluate the actions of the current officers who responded May 24, but “recent developments uncovered additional concerns with department operations.”
Results of the investigation will help determine future personnel decisions, officials said.
Officials at other law enforcement agencies, including the Uvalde Police Department, have said they are internally reviewing their response to the Uvalde school shooting and will act according to their findings. Acting Uvalde Police Chief Lt. Mariano Pargas was put on administrative leave in July.
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