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Uvalde police chief resigns days after report cleared officers over mass shooting response

Uvalde police chief resigns days after report cleared officers over mass shooting response

The police chief in Uvalde, Texas, has resigned just a few days after a new report cleared officers of any wrongdoing on the day a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.

Chief Daniel Rodriguez made the announcement on the Uvalde Police Department’s Facebook page, saying he believed it was time to “embrace a new chapter” in his career.

The chief was not in Uvalde when the mass shooting happened on 24 May 2022, but he did stand by his officers, who were on the scene, in the weeks and months following the incident.

Last week an investigation, ordered by former city mayor Don McLaughlin into the actions of law enforcement that day, absolved five first responders of any wrongdoing.

Tuesday’s announcement by Chief Rodriguez did not mention the shooting at all, instead he spoke of the honour of serving Uvalde for 26 years.

“I take pride in the positive impact we’ve made during my tenure,” Chief Rodriguez said.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to all of my colleagues and team members for their unwavering support, professionalism, and dedication to our shared mission of serving and protecting the community.”

Uvalde Police Department and other law enforcement agencies on the scene in May 2022 have come under scrutiny for not necessarily protecting their community.

In January, the Department of Justice outlined the “cascading failures” of agencies, with officers having waited around 77 minutes before engaging the shooter.

A memorial dedicated to the 19 children and two adults murdered on May 24, 2022 during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School is seen on April 27, 2023 in Uvalde, Texas (Getty Images)
A memorial dedicated to the 19 children and two adults murdered on May 24, 2022 during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School is seen on April 27, 2023 in Uvalde, Texas (Getty Images)

However, Thursday’s announcement came in complete contrast, absolving Uvalde police Sgt Donald Page, Lt Javier Martinez, Detective Louis Landry and Staff Sgt Eduardo Canales of any accusations that they violated department policy.

The report focused on school police and parents trying to enter the school during the incident.

The relatives of some victims walked out of the city council meeting after the findings were delivered, while others wept and held each other at the back of the room.

Some officers did lose their jobs in the wake of the shooting, but none have faced criminal charges. The acting chief on the day of the shooting, Lt Mariano Pargas, resigned from his position in November 2022.

On 6 April 2024, Chief Rodriguez will move on to “explore new opportunities”. In his statement, he said that Uvalde will always hold a special place in his heart.

“I have full confidence that the police department will continue to thrive under new leadership, and I wish nothing but the best for the organisation and its members in the future,” he added.

Nearly two years after the events at Robb Elementary, families are still waiting for more answers, as an investigation by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell has still not been made public.