EXCLUSIVE: City of Uvalde hired investigator with no active shooter training to investigate Robb tragedy

Jesse Prado unveiled his 20 month long independent investigation into the Robb Elementary shooting last month

UVALDE, Texas – The Austin area investigator hired by the City of Uvalde in July 2022 to conduct an independent investigation into the Robb Elementary shooting has no active shooter response training.

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records obtained by KSAT 12 News found Jesse Prado had no active shooter training while he was with the Austin Police Department for over 20 years.

“What were the qualifications to hire Mr. Prado for this investigation?” asked KSAT reporter Leigh Waldman.

“Gosh, what were the qualifications? He came recommended as an investigator that did this kind of work. And we did a little looking into his background that’s what we got,” said Vince DiPiazza, Uvalde City Manager.

“Were you all aware that he had no active shooter response training whenever you all hired him?” asked Waldman.

“I don’t recall that. So, we were aware that he didn’t, I don’t know that we were aware of that,” said DiPiazza.

Uvalde Mayor Pro-Tem Everardo Zamora said they took the advice of their attorneys, the Tarski Law Firm, in hiring Prado.

“How can he examine an active-shooter policy having not gone through any training himself?” asked Waldman.

“We have our own policies, he reviewed our policies, and everybody according to him, you know the report came out,” said Everardo Zamora.

“Are you satisfied with him as an investigator?” asked Waldman.

Zamora didn’t provide further comment.

Prado’s investigation, which was originally supposed to take between 60-90 days to complete, cost the City of Uvalde more than $100,000.

In the report presented at a special city council meeting on March 7, Prado said none of the Uvalde Police Department officers who responded to Robb on May 24, 2022, did anything wrong and he called for each of them to be exonerated.

Those findings spurred outrage amongst the families of victims and survivors, as well as several members of the Uvalde City Council.

TCOLE serves as a regulatory agency for all law enforcement bodies in the state of Texas. According to its website, TCOLE “establish(s) minimum standards relating to competence and reliability, including education, training, physical, mental, and moral standards, for licensing as an officer, county jailer, or public security officer.”

According to an article published in February in the Texas Tribune, in 2023, a law change in Texas “mandated that all officers, not just school police, take 16 hours of active shooter training every two years.”

Prado was with the Austin Police Department from 1989 until 2013, according to records obtained by KSAT. In that time it was not required for officers to go through active shooter response training.

Following his retirement from APD, Prado began his career as a private investigator and started his company JPPI Investigations LLC. According to its website, JPPI Investigations typically looks a handful of topics including divorce child custody, criminal investigations, civil cases, corporate investigations and missing persons.

A scathing report from the Department of Justice into the Robb Elementary School shooting analyzed a slew of failures that occurred on the day of the tragedy. During his visit to Uvalde, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland made it clear that law enforcement agencies should prioritize active shooter training.

“Had law enforcement agencies followed generally accepted practices in active shooter situations and gone right after the shooter and stopped him, lives would have been saved and people would have survived,” Garland said on Jan. 17.

When reached for comment via email about his lack of training, Prado responded with “No comment.”

“My kids are more certified than he is. My kids have done countless you know school shooter training and this guy hasn’t ever?” asked Brett Cross, Uziyah Garcia’s guardian.

“How you say oh you should have done this, or they acted in good faith if you weren’t in those shoes ever?” asked Berlinda Arreola, Amerie Jo Garza’s step-grandma.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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