UVALDE, Texas — The officer who was Uvalde's acting police chief on the day of the shooting at Robb Elementary has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his actions that day, Mayor Don McLaughlin said.
Lt. Mariano Pargas was the acting police chief that day, and an investigation is underway to determine if he should have taken command of the scene, what he did to take command of the scene, or whether that was even possible. The mayor also released bodycam footage from officers at the scene.
This comes the same day that the Texas House committee investigating the shooting released a 77-page report detailing 'multiple systemic failures' by law enforcement on that day. Almost 400 officers responded to the scene, and the report says that some of the victims might have been saved had officers not waited for over an hour to engage the gunman.
The mayor also said that every law enforcement agency that was there should investigate their highest-ranking official who was on site that day. his full statement is below.
"Today, the City of Uvalde is doing three things in response to reviewing the first factual and complete report on the Robb tragedy.
First, to echo the sentiment of the Legislative committee’s report, we agree that the entire Uvalde community has already waited entirely too long for answers and transparency. We are releasing all body cameras from Uvalde police officers taken during the incident. We held off on releasing these videos at the District Attorney, Christina Mitchell’s, direction. However, with the release of the school district’s hallway video, we believe these body camera videos provide further, necessary context. Additionally, as Ms. Mitchell’s direction was to all agencies, including DPS, to hold all videos relating to the shooting until a final report was issued, we believe this restriction has not been enforced. The audio/video has been edited to protect the victims. The families of Robb School victims have been given the opportunity to review the video being released today.
Second, the City has placed Lt. Mariano Pargas on administrative leave. Lt. Pargas was the acting Chief of Police for the City of Uvalde the day of the shooting. The City has a responsibility to evaluate the response to the incident by the Uvalde Police Department, which includes Lt. Pargas’ role as the acting Chief. This administrative leave is to investigate whether Lt. Pargas was responsible for taking command on May 24th, what specific actions Lt. Pargas took to establish that command, and whether it was even feasible given all the agencies involved and other possible policy violations.
We agree with the Committee’s review of the incident, there was failure of command. However, we have further questions as to who was responsible for taking command as each agency there had senior level commanders on site. We want to know which agency took what specific actions to take command, and where did the critical breakdown occur.
The City of Uvalde will be conducting an internal investigation regarding our police department’s actions and our policies and procedures. I have told you this would happen since day one. We are currently waiting on DPS to release UPD officers’ official statements, taken immediately after the incident, as these are critical to our own internal investigation. The City has selected Jesse Prado, an expert in the field, to conduct the internal investigation. As soon as DPS releases the reports we have requested, Mr. Prado will begin his review and assessment. That will also include a specific review of Lt. Pargas’ actions as Acting Chief of Police that Day.
As Mayor of Uvalde, the City only has any authority over its own police force. Which is why I support the City’s decision to place Lt. Pargas on administrative leave and conduct a full internal investigation. However, it is imperative that each agency onsite at Robb School that day commits to the same process and investigates their highest ranking, onsite officers’ actions.
The City and its Police Department strive for transparency and are done waiting for the District Attorney and DPS to value our community’s need for answers."