Uvalde police chief resigns after controversial report cleared officers who responded to school shooting

Uvalde Special City Council meeting at City Hall on June 7, 2022.
Uvalde City Hall on June 7, 2022. Credit: Evan L'Roy for The Texas Tribune

The Uvalde police chief who was on vacation during the Robb Elementary School shooting — but who also led a department with officers that didn’t receive sufficient active shooter training — resigned on Tuesday. He told the local newspaper it was a decision in the best interest of his family.

Daniel Rodriguez’ resignation comes days after a city-sanctioned review of the May 24, 2022 shooting response cleared all local officers of wrongdoing — and at points praised those officers’ actions. Those findings were in contrast to previous audits of the police response that faulted law enforcement at all levels, in part due to lack of training.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the massacre that’s been defined by a catastrophic police response and failure of leadership resulting in children being trapped with the gunman for more than an hour. Some of the children called 911 from the classrooms, begging for help as responding officers stood in the hallway.

Last week’s city-sanctioned report infuriated families of the children killed and at least two City Council members who publicly condemned the report.

Rodriguez, however, told the Uvalde Leader News that he was “not forced, asked or pressured by anyone in the city or the community to make the decision that I made” in resigning.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to all of my colleagues and team members for their unwavering support, professionalism, and dedication to our mission of serving and protecting the community,” Rodriguez wrote in his resignation letter, according to the Leader News, which first reported the development. “It has been a privilege to work alongside such talented and committed individuals, and I will miss our collaborations and camaraderie dearly.”

Rodriguez did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Tribune.

Uvalde Mayor Cody Smith expressed gratitude for the chief’s 26 years of service on the city’s police force. Smith named assistant police chief Homer Delgado as interim chief; he reportedly joined the department in the year after the shooting.

“We wish him the best as he pursues new career opportunities,” Smith said in an unsigned statement. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our community, and we look forward to working together to identify the best candidate to serve the people of Uvalde."

Rodriguez’ last day will be April 6, according to his resignation letter. He wrote it was time to “embark on a new chapter in my career” and that he was excited for opportunities ahead, but did not elaborate further.

“I will always cherish the memories and experiences shared with the city of Uvalde and its residents,” Rodriguez wrote. “I am confident that the police department will continue to thrive under new leadership, and I wish nothing but the best for the organization and its members in the future.”

Rodriguez, a 25-year veteran of the department, was in Phoenix on the day of the shooting but spoke briefly with then-Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was assigned to be acting chief that day, according to the city-commissioned report released last week. Rodriguez asked Pargas to set up a command post and keep him apprised. Pargas did not set up any such post.

According to the federal government's review of the response to the shooting, Pargas had no active shooter or incident command training — like other key officials — despite, in some instances, having decades of law enforcement experience.

Pargas stepped down from the Uvalde Police Department in November 2022, days before the City Council was scheduled to discuss his termination following months of scrutiny over his lack of leadership on the day of the shooting. Pargas resigned instead and still holds public office as a county commissioner.

Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell has said she's not ruled out criminally charging any law enforcement officials. To date none have been charged in connection with the shooting or its bungled response.

A grand jury convened in January to begin investigating law enforcement’s delayed response to determine whether criminal charges can be filed against any officials.

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