Acting Uvalde police chief during Robb Elementary massacre retires ahead of potentially being fired

Uvalde Police Department Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the acting chief on May 24 during the Robb Elementary School shooting, retired effective immediately on Thursday, a spokesperson for the city confirmed. 

His retirement came two days ahead of a special city council meeting that was planned to consider his dismissal from the force. 

Pargas was in charge of the Uvalde Police Department during the shooting because the chief, Daniel Rodriguez, was out of town at the time. 

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A special Texas House committee report released over the summer said that Pargas was “one of the earliest responders” to the scene, but assumed that former Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo had taken control of the scene. 

“He told the Committee he figured that Chief Arredondo had jurisdiction over the incident and that he must have been coordinating the law enforcement response—and that the Uvalde Police were there to assist,” lawmakers wrote in the report. 

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Arredondo, who Pargas appeared to cede control to, was fired in August after months of criticism. 

Pargas was also present when another Uvalde school district officer, Ruben Ruiz, entered the school and said that his wife, a teacher in the school, had just called to say that she was shot. Ruiz was escorted out of the school and roughly an hour went by before officers breached the classroom door and took out the gunman. Ruiz’s wife, Eva Mireles, died in an ambulance outside the school. 

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The committee also found that Pargas was aware of 911 calls coming from victims trapped inside the classroom who were still alive. 

“He told the Committee that it was his understanding that officers on the north side of the building understood there were victims trapped inside the classroom with the attacker,” lawmakers wrote. 

“According to Lt. Pargas, while nobody said it, the officers on the north side of the building were waiting for other personnel to arrive from Department of Public Safety or BORTAC, with better equipment like rifle-rated shields.”

Audio recordings published this week by CNN also painted a picture in which Pargas was told by a 911 dispatcher that “eight to nine” kids were still alive inside the classroom, but another half hour would elapse before a tactical team took out the gunman. 

Pargas was placed on administrative leave after the House committee’s report. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday. 

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