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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Michael Sainato

Uvalde school district police chief resigns a year after stepping into job

a group of people in blue shirts search the grass near a red brick sign
Investigators search for evidence outside Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on 25 May 2022. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

The chief of police for Uvalde schools has resigned, a year after he replaced the previous chief who held the role during the 2022 school shooting in the Texas city.

Joshua Gutierrez, former police chief of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD), was hired in November 2022 as interim police chief before officially being named to the job in March 2023. His predecessor, Pete Arredondo, was fired following his inaction to the shooting at Robb elementary school on 24 May 2022.

Two teachers and 19 students were killed in the mass shooting. Police response was heavily criticized as they waited over an hour before entering the school building.

A Department of Justice report issued in January 2024 noted law enforcement’s response to the shooting and afterward was a “failure”.

The district police chief’s resignation will be presented for approval by the UCISD board on 17 June, with his last day of employment set for 26 June.

His hiring was initially framed as part of the process to rebuilding the district police force following the Robb elementary mass shooting. Gutierrez worked as several other school districts before assuming the chief position at Uvalde.

“I have the ability to come out here and help the community heal, help our community heal, and the abilities to re-establish a good foundation for our police department,” he told KSAT in an interview shortly after he began the role in December 2022.

Accountability for the response to the shooting has still been pushed by victims’ families. In February 2024, Brett Cross, the father of one of the shooting victims, was arrested at a Uvalde county commissioner’s court meeting after confronting Mariano Pargas Jr, a commissioner, during the public comment portion of the meeting, where Cross criticized Pargas for not appearing at previous meetings. Pargas served as city of Uvalde police chief when the shooting took place.

No immediate reason was provided for the resignation. A job posting was listed to fill the position. Parents of Uvalde victims are expected to make a statement on the resignation with their attorneys later today.

“We thank Chief Gutierrez for his dedicated leadership and guidance in reestablishing the Uvalde CISD police department,” Anne Marie Espinoza, the district’s executive director of communications and marketing said in a statement.

“His contributions have been instrumental in enhancing the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, and school community. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

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