Uvalde police chief who was on vacation during Robb Elementary shooting resigns

A Uvalde police officers patch a badge are seen as he stands watch over a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, March 7, 2024. Almost two years after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead, the city council met to discuss the results of an independent investigation it requested into the response by local police officers. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A Uvalde police officers patch a badge are seen as he stands watch over a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, March 7, 2024. Almost two years after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead, the city council met to discuss the results of an independent investigation it requested into the response by local police officers. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Uvalde police chief who was on vacation during the Robb Elementary School shooting submitted his resignation Tuesday, less than a week after a report ordered by the city defended the department’s response to the attack but outraged some family members of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed.

Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez was in Arizona when a teen entered a fourth-grade classroom in Uvalde with an AR-style rifle on May 24, 2022. In his resignation letter, which did not mention one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, Rodriguez said it was time for a new chapter in his career.

“Together we achieved significant progress and milestones, and I take pride in the positive impact we’ve made during my tenure,” Rodriguez wrote. He also thanked colleagues and said Uvalde will “always hold a special place in my heart.”

The resignation is effective April 6.

Rodriguez did not attend a Uvalde City Council meeting hours later, angering some families who continued to press for the city to take action against officers who responded to the shooting.

The meeting was the first since a private investigator hired by the city unveiled a report that acknowledged missteps by police but concluded that local officers did not deserve punishment. Nearly 400 law enforcement agents who were at the scene of the attack, including Uvalde police, waited more than an hour after the shooting began to confront the gunman.

Mayor Cody Smith said it was too soon to take any action on the report. Some family members criticized Rodriguez’s absence at the meeting.

“What does Daniel do today? He doesn’t show up. Just like his crew didn’t show up that day,” said Jesse Rizo, whose niece Jacklyn Cazares was among the victims.

A critical incident report by the Department of Justice in January found “cascading failures” in law enforcement’s handling of the massacre. The report specifically mentioned Uvalde Police Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the acting police chief that day in Rodriguez’s absence.

According to the almost 600-page DOJ report, nearly an hour after the shooter entered the school, Pargas “continued to provide no direction, command or control to personnel.”

The city’s report agreed with that of federal officials regarding a lack of communication between officers command and a response plan, as well as an insufficient officer training. Following the presenation of the findings last week, some speakers questioned why Rodriguez had allowed officers who had waited so long to act to remain on the force.

A criminal investigation into the police response by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell’s office remains ongoing. A grand jury was summoned earlier this year and some law enforcement officials have already been called to testify.

City officials have accused Mitchell of refusing to provide them with information from other responding law enforcement agencies, citing her office’s ongoing investigation. In December 2022, city leaders sued the local prosecutor over access to records regarding the deadly shooting..

Uvalde, a town of just over 15,000 residents about 85 miles southwest of San Antonio, remains divided over accountability and the definition of moving forward.

At least five officers who were on the scene have lost their jobs, including two Department of Public Safety officers and Pete Arredondo, the former school police chief who was the on-site commander. No officers have faced criminal charges.

AP U.S. News

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