UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The Uvalde school district said Friday it will suspend all activities of its police department, and confirmed that two of the department’s top officials have been placed on administrative leave after the Robb Elementary School shooting that killed 21 people.
In a statement issued Friday, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) said “recent developments have uncovered additional concerns with department operations,” which prompted the suspension.
Uvalde CISD said officers currently employed will fill other roles within the district. At least two officials, Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Student Services Director Ken Mueller, were placed on administrative leave, with Mueller electing to retire, according to UCISD’s announcement.
“As a result of the recent developments, Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller have been placed on administrative leave, and the District has made the decision to suspend all activities of the Uvalde CISD Police Department for a period of time,” Uvalde CISD wrote in Friday’s statement.
The suspension comes after documents revealed a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper — who responded to the school shooting and is under investigation for her response — was hired into the UCISD Police Department.
Records released Thursday showed DPS wrote Lt. Hernandez a letter on July 28 telling him the former trooper he was looking to hire, Crimson Elizondo, was under investigation by the agency.
Elizondo was hired anyway, records show.
The July letter said Elizondo was under investigation by the DPS’ Office of Inspector General for “actions inconsistent with training and Department requirements.” The letter did not specify whether the investigation was related to the shooting at Robb Elementary.
Elizondo was also reported to have been recorded talking to a fellow officer on the day of the shooting, saying, “if my son had been in there, I would not have been outside,” CNN reported.
On Thursday, the school district announced Elizondo had been fired.
“Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is not consistent with the district’s expectations,” Uvalde CISD said in a statement.
Without officers, Uvalde CISD said it asked Texas DPS to provide extra troopers for its campuses and extra-curricular activities. In August, it was also announced the district would be getting help from over 30 DPS officers.
“We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition,” Uvalde CISD said Friday.
Uvalde parents have been demanding the suspension of the district officers who responded to the shooting. To make their protests clear, father Brett Cross, who lost his son Uziyah in the shooting, has been camping out on school district office grounds for a little over 10 days.
“They’re still walking around like nothing,” he told Nexstar on Tuesday. “Accountability needs to happen. Accountability starts at home.”
Cross posted an update to Twitter after news of the suspension was released: “245 hr update!!! We did it! And we are going home!”
The district said it is still awaiting results from both an investigation and a review into the Uvalde CISD Police Department. The review is being done by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and will cover management and organization.
“The results of this review will guide the rebuilding of the department and the hiring of a new Chief of Police. We expect to have a report later this month,” Uvalde CISD said.
A private investigator is separately investigating the officers’ response to the May 24 shooting. Results from this investigation will also help with future decisions, according to the district.
“Should have happened four months ago”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, said he is “glad” the families finally are seeing more accountability for law enforcement’s actions on the day of the massacre.
Up until this week, the only Uvalde CISD police officer who faced repercussions was former CISD police chief Pete Arredondo. The district fired him in mid-August.
Currently, 7 officials within DPS are under investigation for their actions on May 24 and two have been suspended. Aside from Elizondo — whose information was only leaked by media — the law enforcement agency has not disclosed any details about those being investigated and for what specific reasons.
“The only people that aren’t moving forward at this time is the Department of Public Safety,” Gutierrez said. “We need a lot more work to do at the state level with the state police.”