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Former Uvalde school police chief, officer charged for first time in criminal charges over failed response to 2022 mass shooting



CNN

A grand jury has indicted two former Uvalde school police officers over law enforcement’s botched response to the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead, two Texas state government sources familiar with the indictment told CNN Thursday.

Pete Arredondo, former police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, and Adrian Gonzales, a former school police officer, were named in the indictments, which represent the first criminal charges filed in the massacre of school.

Arredondo surrendered to the Texas Rangers in Uvalde on Thursday, a Texas Department of Public Safety official told CNN.

Both officers are charged with abandoning and endangering a child, Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell told the Uvalde Leader-News, and one of them is expected to surrender later Thursday.

Indictments were not immediately available from the Uvalde County District Court clerk’s office.

Family members of the victims met with the prosecutor’s office to discuss the results of the months-long grand jury investigation, according to Brett Cross, the guardian of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, one of the fourth-graders killed in the shooting rampage.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice released a damning report concluding that law enforcement had ample opportunity to reevaluate its flawed response to the May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Bursts of gunfire, reports that a teacher had been shot, and then a desperate call from a student trapped with the gunman could have — and should have — sparked action to end the bloodshed. earlier, according to the report.

Instead, it took 77 minutes from the time the 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School until he was stopped. The rampage remains one of the deadliest episodes in America’s scourge of campus shootings.

Critical failures of leadership by some law enforcement officers who rushed to Robb Elementary School are cited by the Justice Department, whose 575-page report was released nearly 20 months after the massacre.

Arredondo was fired in August 2022 for his role in the failed response. In May, his replacement, Joshua Gutierrez, submitted his resignation and his last day on the job was Wednesday, according to a statement from a school official.

Several law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting, including members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, have been ordered to testify before the grand jury, CNN previously reported.

School employees and shooting victims began testimony before the grand jury in March, shortly after the Uvalde City Council released an independent report exonerating all local officers of any wrongdoing.

The independent investigator hired by the city presented his findings at a packed City Council meeting, saying all Uvalde Police Department officers who responded to the school acted in good faith and should be exonerated .

The investigation’s findings angered many victims’ parents and community members who have argued for nearly two years that some should not be absolved. Less than a week after the report was released, Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez abruptly announced he would resign effective April 6, saying it was time to begin “a new chapter” in his career.

The Justice Department report rejected the initial official narrative that the brave first responders saved lives that day and said that “many victims said it added to their pain during a difficult time.”

The report also found that many problems arose after the shooter’s death, from evacuating students from the school and reuniting them with their families to how grieving parents were notified of their children’s deaths, the disclosure of information about what happened and the provision of therapeutic services.

The report describes the rapid arrival of law enforcement officers who ran toward the sound of gunfire, then almost immediately stopped once they reached the classrooms where the shooter was killing fourth-graders and teachers.

The move is contrary to widely established active shooter response protocol, which directs law enforcement to move toward and eliminate any threat.

Instead, the intensity level decreased as responders began to treat the situation as a “barricaded suspect” operation that did not require immediate action, even as more officers arrived and signals of continued danger increased.

This was “the most critical tactical failure,” the Justice Department’s Office of Community Policing team concluded.

In May, 19 families of students and teachers killed or injured in the mass shooting said they had reached a settlement with the city for $2 million and announced they were suing 92 Department of Justice officers. Texas Public Safety, the school district and individual employees.

The city confirmed the deal in a statement.

“The last two years have been unbearable,” Javier Cazares, the father of 9-year-old victim Jacklyn Cazares, said at a news conference in May. “We all know who took the lives of our children, but on May 24, the whole world saw a systemic failure. »

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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