AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Public Safety on Friday fired an officer who was at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre, becoming the first state police officer to lose his job over the hesitant response to the May attack.
The division served Sgt. Juan Maldonado with discharge papers, spokeswoman Ericka Miller said.
The shooting comes five months after the shooting at Robb Elementary School, which state police have been scrutinizing over their actions on campus when a gunman with an AR-15-style rifle killed 19 children and two teachers.
Body-camera images and media reports have shown that the Department of Public Security played a bigger role on the ground than the department appeared to suggest after the May 24 shooting. State troopers were among the first wave of officers to arrive but did not immediately confront the gunman, which experts say goes against standard police procedure during mass shootings.
Instead, more than 70 minutes passed before officers finally burst into a fourth-grade classroom and killed the gunman, ending one of the deadliest school attacks in American history. In the end, nearly 400 officers arrived on the scene, including state police, Uvalde police, school agents and US Border Patrol agents.
Continued coverage of the school massacre in Uvalde
Maldonado could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Seven troopers from the Department of Public Safety were: investigated internally this summer after a damning report from lawmakers revealed that state police have more than 90 officers on the scene, more than any other agency.
Steve McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Security, called the law enforcement response an “abject failure,” but put most of the blame on Pete Arredondo, former chief of Uvalde’s school police, who was fired in August and can be seen on bodycam videos. in vain for a key to the classroom door that can be unlocked all the time.
But the mayor of Uvalde, the victims’ parents and some lawmakers have accused the Ministry of Public Security of trying to minimize its own failure.
State senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde, responded to the news of the resignation by saying that responsibility in the department should not end there.
“Ninety to go, plus the DPS director,” he said.
Gutierrez has sued the department in an effort to obtain documents related to the reaction to the shooting. Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, have also asked courts to compel authorities and Uvalde officials to release data under public information laws.
Republican chief executive Greg Abbott, who will be re-elected in November, assisted McCraw, saying during a debate in September that there must be “responsibility for law enforcement at every level.” An Abbott spokesperson did not return messages requesting comment about the dismissal.
One of the state poachers under investigation was Crimson Elizondo, who resigned and was later hired by Uvalde schools to work as a campus police officer. She was fired less than 24 hours after outraged parents in Uvalde learned she had been hired.