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Uvalde City Council to Investigate Every City Official Responding to School Massacre

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Uvalde, Texas
CNN

The Uvalde City Council vowed Tuesday to investigate any city police officer who responded to the Robb Elementary School massacre in May.

“This investigation looks at each officer and what his actions — what he did, what our policies say — and basically we get a report on everyone,” said Councilman Ernest “Chip” King III, adding, “we will act on it, and we promise you that.”

Uvalde police officers responding to the scene will be interviewed by the council-appointed lead investigator, Jesse Prado, a former Austin police detective, King said.

“He’s going to lead the investigation and we’ll let the investigation go, see what he finds, but anyone Uvalde PD who was there will be held accountable for their actions,” he said.

“We owe it to the families. We want to do it right,” said another councilor, Everardo “Lalo” Zamora, referring to the heartbreak the Texas community has suffered since the attack that killed 19 students and two teachers.

Law enforcement’s response to the massacre, the second deadliest at a U.S. K-12 school, has been widely criticized for the 80-minute delay between the first shots being fired and the gunman finally being killed.

Uvalde police officers were some of the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the school where a gunman fired at people outside, entered the school through a side door and entered a classroom where he fired more than 100 bullets.

In all, nearly 400 officers from two dozen agencies responded to the May 24 shooting.

Uvalde police have 39 sworn officers, officials said Tuesday. Twenty-five of them went to the scene of the shooting, according to a report by a Texas House Commission of Inquiry.

The city has already placed a lieutenant, who was deputy chief of police that day, on administrative leave to determine whether he should have taken command.

The state’s Ministry of Public Security is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting.

Two reviews of the response so far — by the Texas House Commission of Inquiry and the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University — have blamed school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, though neither report considered a complete accounting of the day and its failures. The Commission of Inquiry also pointed to the widespread failure of the various law enforcement agencies that came to the scene.

Arredondo has not spoken substantively to the public about his actions that day and has declined CNN requests for comment. His attorney, who has not responded to CNN requests for comment, told the Texas Tribune that Arredondo was not the “incident commander.”

Arredondo told the House Inquiry Committee that he “did not believe he had taken command of the incident,” according to the legislative report — which quoted the chief as saying: “My approach and thought was to respond like a police officer. And so I didn’t give myself a title.”

The chief is on administrative leave and the school district director has recommended that he be fired. A school board meeting to vote on his resignation was canceled at the request of the principal’s attorney, officials said.

Some people at the city council meeting called for city officials who went to school to be put on leave or given desk duties.

“I know parents want answers. No one wants to give those answers more than I do in the city council,” Hector R. Luevano, a Uvalde city council member, said during a public portion of Tuesday’s council meeting.

“I am a former police officer, so I have some insight into the actions that need to be taken,” he added. “I can assure the families in this community that I will do everything in my power as a member of this council to give you the answers you need to hear,” he said.

“If there’s an officer who is violating a policy or procedure that they had to act on that didn’t let these kids die and possibly caused these teachers to die, I can assure you that heads will roll,” Luevano said. .

Council members said their investigator should complete his work within two months, after which Prado will make recommendations — possibly including disciplinary action — to the council.

The council, like the school board the night before, passed a resolution requesting Governor Greg Abbott to convene a special session of the state legislature to consider raising the minimum age for purchasing a military-style semi-automatic rifle. .

Uvalde’s gunner bought two AR-15 style rifles for his 18th birthday. He used one in the massacre.

Luevano said it’s likely the governor will ignore the requests and cited Abbott’s connection to the National Rifle Association, pointing out that it had funded his campaign.

“So this special session is going to take place? I don’t think so,” he said. “And why do we have to ask for a special session? Why doesn’t he take the initiative?”

“I don’t even think he cares about Uvalde,” Luevano added.

CNN has asked Abbott’s office for comment.

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