Crime

More Chaos in the Aftermath of Uvalde as School District's Entire Police Force Suspended

Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has suspended its entire police department, according to a press release sent out Friday. The move comes after an investigation by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the third-party JPPI Investigations “uncovered additional concerns with department operations” relating to its response to the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary.

The 18-year-old shooter legally purchased the assault rifle he used to kill 19 students and two teachers. Officers waited 77 minutes before entering the classroom occupied by the shooter to try and stop the attack.

Developments in the Uvalde investigation have led the district to suspend its entire police force and place two officers, Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller, on administrative leave. Mueller chose to retire. The rest of the department will serve other roles in the district until further notice.

“Results of the investigation will inform future personnel decisions,” the district said in the Friday press release.

The Texas Police Chiefs Association is continuing its investigation, as well as a review of how the district’s police department is managed. The results of this review will “guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new chief of police,” the district said.

While its department is suspended, the district has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to send additional troopers to provide security. “We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition,” the district said.

Shortly after the district announced its whole police department would be on suspension, news broke that the superintendent was retiring as well.

In an email obtained by CNN, Superintendent Hal Harrell said the school board’s meeting Monday would include a closed session to “discuss superintendent retirement options and transition.” Harrell said in his email: “I am in my 31st year in education, all served and dedicated to the students and families here in Uvalde. This will be our first discussion and there are no defined timelines set at this point.”

On Thursday, the district also fired one of its new cops after CNN reported she was under investigation for her actions during the Robb Elementary shooting. Crimson Elizondo, the now-fired officer, was one of the state troopers who arrived at the school within two minutes after the shooting started. She can be seen on the campus in police body camera footage from that day. Also captured on body camera was Elizondo saying “If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that.”

Following CNN’s reporting, the district said in a statement that it had fired Elizondo.

“We are deeply distressed by the information that was disclosed yesterday evening concerning one of our recently hired employees, Crimson Elizondo,” the district’s statement said. “We sincerely apologize to the victims' families and the greater Uvalde community for the pain that this revelation has caused. Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is not consistent with the District’s expectations. Regarding the remaining UCISD Police Department employees, we continue to make personnel decisions based on verifiable information.”

The next day, the district suspended its whole department.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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