Uvalde schools suspend entire campus police force amid community outrage
The school district of Uvalde, Texas, suspended its entire police force Friday amid fresh outrage over the hesitant law enforcement response to the gunman who massacred 21 people at Robb Elementary School.
The extraordinary move followed the revelation that the district had hired a former state trooper who was among hundreds of officers who rushed to the scene of the May 24 shooting.
School leaders also put two members of the district police department on administrative leave; one chose to retire instead, according to a statement by the Uvalde Consolidated
Independent School District. Remaining officers will be reassigned to other jobs in the district.
Uvalde school leaders’ suspension of campus police operations one month into the school year underscores the sustained pressure that families of the 19 children and two teachers killed have kept on the district.
For the record:
4:36 p.m. Oct. 7, 2022A previous version of this article identified Brett Cross as Uziyah Garcia’s father. Cross is Uziyah’s uncle.
Brett Cross, the uncle of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, had been protesting outside the Uvalde school administration building for two weeks, demanding accountability from officers who allowed a gunman with an AR-15-style rifle to remain in a fourth-grade classroom for more than 70 minutes.
“We did it!” Cross tweeted Friday.
Families have said students are not safe having officers who waited so long to confront and kill the gunman remaining on the job.
The Uvalde school district had five campus police officers at the scene of the shooting, according to a damning report from Texas lawmakers that laid out breakdowns in the law enforcement response. Nearly 400 officers responded, including school district police, city police, county sheriff’s deputies, state police and U.S. Border Patrol agents.
A report says nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting that left 21 people dead at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
The suspensions Friday are the first in Uvalde’s school police force since the district fired former Police Chief Pete Arredondo in August. He remains the only officer to be fired from his job after one of the deadliest classroom attacks in U.S. history.
The district said it would ask the Texas Department of Public Safety, which had already assigned dozens of troopers to the district for the school year, for additional help. The agency did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
“We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition,” the district said in a statement. It did not specify the length of time campus police operations would remain suspended.
The former state trooper who was hired by the district was among at least seven who were placed under internal investigation for their actions at Robb Elementary. The officer, Crimson Elizondo, was fired Thursday, one day after CNN reported that she had been hired. She has not responded to voicemails and messages left by the Associated Press.
Steve McCraw, the head of the state’s Department of Public Safety, has called the law enforcement response to the shooting an “abject failure.” McCraw has also come under pressure as the leader of a department that had more than 90 troopers on the scene, but he still has the support of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
On Thursday, after Elizondo was fired, Abbott called it a “poor decision” for the school to hire the former trooper and said it was up to the district to “own up to it.”
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