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'We did it!' — Uvalde's entire school police department suspended following activism from families

Brett Cross, the uncle and guardian of Uziyah Garcia, celebrated the news that the entire Uvalde CISD police department was suspended on Friday October 7, 2022.
David Martin Davies
/
Texas Public Radio
Brett Cross, the uncle and guardian of Uziyah Garcia, celebrated the news that the entire Uvalde CISD police department was suspended on Friday October 7, 2022.

The announcement comes after some family members of victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School have protested and even camped out at the district headquarters demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies who responded to the shooting.

UVALDE — Officials with the Uvalde school district on Friday announced that it suspended its police force and that two high-ranking officials have been placed on administrative leave.

The announcement came after some family members of victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School protested and even camped out at the district headquarters demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies who responded to the shooting.

“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,” district officials said in a news release." Officers currently employed will fill other roles in the district.”

Mueller, who served as the district’s director of student services, has elected to retire, the statement added.

The announcement added to the fallout from the shooting in late May when an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers before being shot and killed by law enforcement officers.

Investigations into the shooting revealed that officers waited for more than an hour before engaging the shooter, even as survivors were trapped inside classrooms and pleaded with 911 dispatchers for help.

 A line of backpacks symbolize the lost students of Robb Elementary School, part of the victims families' protest.
David Martin Davies
/
Texas Public Radio
A line of backpacks symbolize the lost students of Robb Elementary School, part of the victims families' protest.

Brett Cross, the uncle and guardian of Uziyah Garcia, celebrated the news on Twitter. Cross was Garcia’s uncle and guardian but refers to him as his son.

“245 hr update!!! We did it! And we are going home!” he Tweeted, referring to the 10 days he was camped out at the district headquarters demanding action. Cross added: "They weren't going to make a liar out of me again.”

Cross previously said school district officials made a liar out of him when he promised his son he would always protect him.

David Martin Davies
/
Texas Public Radio

The suspension decisions came after an investigation into the officers’ response that was spearheaded by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and JPPI, a private investigation firm, which “uncovered additional concerns with department operations,” officials said.

School district officials added that it has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide additional officers to provide security for campus and extra-curricular activities.

“We are confident that staff and student safety will not be compromised during this transition,” officials said in a statement.

The victims' families plan to continue their protest Monday at the Uvalde CISD school board meeting, where Superintendent Hal Harrell is expected to announce his retirement.

And after that, they plan to continue their activism on gun reform. The victims' families have been pushing Texas to raise the age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21, something Gov. Greg Abbott has called unconstitutional.

"It's on a small level. We're focused on Uvalde. But look at what happened. We're stronger in large numbers," said Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter Lexi Rubio was killed in the shooting. "So, if we can get behind this for gun reform, think what we can do."

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Copyright 2022 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Yvette Benavides
David Martin Davies is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience covering Texas, the border and Mexico.