Uvalde Police Chief Resigns As City Settles With Parents Of Shooting Victims

Parents of the victims of the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, saw sweeping wins this week in their fight for accountability from the city and law enforcement departments.

On Wednesday, just as the city settled with the families of 19 victims for $2 million over its failed response to the May 24, 2022, massacre, the Uvalde school district police chief resigned after one year in the position. Also on Wednesday, the families of 17 children who were killed and two who were injured filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Safety and the Uvalde school district.

Josh Koskoff, an attorney representing the families, said Wednesday in a news conference, “These were the last lines of defense for these children. But they were failed long before the shooting. They’re failed. We’re failing children.”

The lawsuit, which seeks $500 million in damages, names 92 Texas DPS troopers, the Uvalde school district and Pete Arredondo, who was chief of police for the school district when a lone gunman killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers inside the school. Mandy Gutierrez, who was principal of the school at the time is also named in the suit.

According to the lawsuit, Texas state troopers were given active-shooter response training, which says that first responders’ main priority is to “stop the killing, then stop the dying and then evacuate the injured.”

Veronica Luevanos, whose daughter Jailah and nephew Jayce were killed in the mass shooting, said in a statement that the $2 million settlement shows a “good faith effort” by the city of Uvalde.

Families of the victims of an elementary school shooting listen to attorney Josh Koskoff at a Wednesday news conference in Uvalde, Texas. The families of 19 of the victims announced a lawsuit against nearly 100 state police officers who were part of the botched law enforcement response. The families also said they agreed to a $2 million settlement with the city.

“But it wasn’t just Uvalde officers who failed us that day,” Luevanos said. “Nearly 100 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety have yet to face a shred of accountability for cowering in fear while my daughter and nephew bled to death in their classroom.”

Koskoff said on Wednesday that the state of Texas has done “nothing at all” but burden Uvalde before the shooting by not giving Uvalde police officers the resources they needed to stop the gunman.

“Blame the least well-trained, least-resourced and least-equipped officers for a problem you helped to create,” he said.

Friday marks the second anniversary of the mass shooting, which was carried out by an 18-year-old former Uvalde student. Nearly 400 police officers from multiple agencies arrived on campus that day, and it took 77 minutes for anyone to confront and kill the gunman. The response was called an “abject failure” by the head of the DPS.

When asked by HuffPost for comment, the Texas DPS said it does not discuss pending litigation.

In a statement to HuffPost, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said it would not comment “the specifics of such actions to maintain the integrity of the legal process and ensure that all parties’ rights are respected.”

Along with the $2 million settlement, the city of Uvalde agreed to establish an annual day of remembrance for the victims and fund a memorial on the plaza in Uvalde. In a statement, the city of Uvalde said that was “thankful” for the agreement with the victims’ families.

Joshua Gutierrez, the Uvalde school district police chief who took over after Arredondo was fired in August 2022, didn’t say why he was resigning. In a statement to HuffPost, the school district said the school board has to approve his resignation at a meeting on June 17.

“We thank Chief Gutierrez for his dedicated leadership and guidance in reestablishing the Uvalde CISD Police Department,” the school district said. “His contributions have been instrumental in enhancing the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and school community. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”