UVALDE, TX, November 17, 2022—Acting Uvalde police chief during Robb Elementary shooting resigned Thursday.
Lt. Mariano Pargas was one of the nearly 400 law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24.
Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the acting police chief on the day of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, stepped down from the Uvalde Police Department on Thursday, just days before city leaders were to decide his fate.
Pargas was with the department for 18 years and announced Thursday that he would retire, said Gina Eisenberg, president of The Eisenberg Group, a communications firm representing the Uvalde mayor’s office.
Pargas’ resignation comes one day after the Mayor Don McLaughlin pledge action against senior officer after new audio was released.
Mayor McLaughlin originally disputed a new report earlier this year that alleges missed chances to quickly end the massacre at a Texas elementary school, again reflecting the lack of accountability and definitive answers about the slow law enforcement response to one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history.
The Uvalde City Council was set to discuss Pargas’ termination during a special meeting Saturday.
The organization LivesRobbed, formed by individuals and families affected by the Uvalde massacre, said Pargas chose to step down nearly six months after the shooting, continuing to show his “lack of character.”
“It’s about damn time,” the group said. “177 days ago, Lt. Mariano Pargas showed a complete lack of courage and leadership while he presided over the Uvalde Police Department during one of the worst law enforcement failures in American history.”
Pargas was among nearly 400 law enforcement officials who responded to the Robb Elementary shooting on May 24 but waited more than an hour to take down the gunman. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed.
Pargas’ departure is the latest in the fallout from the shooting. Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief who was broadly criticized for law enforcement’s lack of coordination and its slow response, was fired Aug. 24. Then in October, Hal Harrell, who was superintendent during the shooting, retired after facing months of backlash over the school district’s safety policies.
During a Uvalde school board meeting Wednesday evening, trustees unanimously named Josh Gutierrez the interim executive director of safety and security and police chief for the school district. Gutierrez previously worked with Gary Patterson, Uvalde’s interim superintendent, at East Central Independent School District in Bexar County.
Pargas was placed on leave in July after a Texas House report showed that several law enforcement agencies were at fault for the Uvalde response. Pargas’ suspension was the first sign of official fallout after a damning state report also showed that police disregarded their active-shooter training.
Pargas’ dismissal comes after a CNN report released Monday also showed that he was told that “eight to nine” children were alive in the classrooms at Robb Elementary but failed to organize help.
The Texan Tribune wrote the original article. Reporter William Melhado contributed to this story