Uvalde Officials Say Lead Investigator Had Active Shooter Training (UPDATE)

Jesse Prado, an Austin-based investigator, shares his findings at a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, on March 7, 2024.
Jesse Prado, an Austin-based investigator, shares his findings at a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, on March 7, 2024. via Associated Press

Uvalde city officials told HuffPost that the lead investigator hired to scrutinize the police response to the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, had indeed completed active shooter training, after a local news station reported that he had not received such training.

KSAT obtained records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement which did not show that investigator Jesse Prado — who ultimately clearedall Uvalde police officers of wrongdoing in a shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead — had received active shooter training while he worked with the Austin (Texas) Police Department.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for the city of Uvalde told HuffPost that Prado had received active-shooter training. The spokesperson shared a certificate of completion for an eight-hour course called “Understanding the Violent Offender: His Crime and His Personality,” as well as a handbook on active shooter response he said was part of the training.

The city of Uvalde hired Prado in July 2022 to lead an independent investigation into local police officers’ response to the mass shooting. Prado presented his findings in March and said that no local police officers violated department policy in their response to the attack. The council has not decided whether to accept the report’s findings.

Several months after the shooting, Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified that there were enough police officers on scene that day to stop the gunman three minutes after he entered the building. Instead, officers waited 77 minutes to confront the shooter. McCraw called the response an “abject failure.” 

Uvalde Mayor Pro Tem Everardo Zamora told KSAT that when hiring Prado, the City Council took the advice of the city’s attorneys, with the firm Tarski Law. Zamora did not return HuffPost’s request for comment. Prado declined to comment.

Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son, Uziyah, died in the shooting at Robb Elementary School, told HuffPost on Wednesday that Prado’s hiring is “par for the course in Uvalde.”

“Imagine that: They hired someone unqualified to push a narrative that they wanted,” Cross said. “Our dead children are more qualified to investigate these officers than him.”

Parents of the victims also spoke before the city council on Tuesday, hoping local leaders would formally reject Prado’s investigation. The investigation found that found that three of the first police officers on scene were Uvalde police officers and they all acted in “good faith.”But parents said the councilrefused to address KSAT’s report.

“Are y’all not tired of being the joke of this country,” Cross,who was wearing a shirt that read “Uvalde Police Department Failed Our Children,” asked during the meeting.

Cross also accused city attorney Paul Tarski, who did not look in Cross’ direction, of not caring about the residents. Tarski did not return requests for comment.

Tuesday night was the first city council meeting sinceCody Smith resigned as mayor Monday night due to medical issues. 

Jesse Rizo, whose 9-year-old niece, Jackie Cazares, was killed in the shooting, said he wishes Smith the best but said victims’ families do not have the ability to “check out” or resign. Rizo asked Tarski if Prado would still meet with the families — something Prado previouslysaid he would do — but Tarski said he couldn’t comment. Rizo also asked the city council if they would ever address Prado’s investigation. Zamora responded, “Lawyers are talking to lawyers.”

This story has been updated to reflect that the city of Uvalde disputes KSAT’s report, and shared documents with HuffPost that appear to show Prado received active shooter training.