UCISD Superintendent Hal Harrell has announced that he will retire just as the district suspended “all activities of the Uvalde CISD Police Department for a period of time” amid criticism of their response to the May 24 massacre.
In an email to staff, Harrell said that board members will “discuss superintendent retirement options and transition” during a meeting on Monday. No timeline was given.
His announcement came shortly after UCISD announced that “recent developments” led to the suspension of the police department. Lt. Miguel Hernandez and Ken Mueller have been placed on administrative leave, UCISD said.
Records obtained by KSAT showed that Hernandez knew about a recently hired officer, Crimson Elizondo, being under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety for her response to the attack.
Elizondo, who was one of the first troopers on the scene, mainly stayed outside the building. She was seen on body cam footage saying, “If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that,” CNN reported.
She left DPS in the summer and was hired by the school district. UCISD fired her on Thursday after reports about her employment surfaced. Since then, parents have also called for DPS Director Steve McCraw to resign.
UCISD said currently employed officers will “fill other roles in the district.” DPS troopers will patrol campus and extracurricular activities.
The district said it is still waiting for the results of an investigation by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and an external group, JPPI Investigations.
Read the full statement below:
UCISD added that Mueller, the director of student services, decided to retire.
Mueller was just one of the district leaders under fire for their handling of the response.
Brett and Nikki Cross, the guardians of Uziyah Garcia, and several other parents and relatives of victims have been at the district’s parking lot, protesting Harrell, Mueller and other district leaders.
They had demanded that Harrell suspend the officers who stood in the hallway at Robb Elementary School for 77 minutes during the shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 19 students and two teachers.
The group had been stationed since Tuesday, Sept. 27, camping out with canopies, chairs and cots, and playing videos of their children.
On Twitter, Brett Cross repeatedly made himself clear: “I’m not going anywhere.”
In one of his videos posted last week, Brett Cross said Mueller “put his hands on me” when Mueller tried to make his way into the district building.
In a video, Mueller is seen trying to move Brett Cross aside at the entrance.
On Friday, just as the district announced the suspension, he shared some of his last Tweets from the protest.
“245 hr update!!! We did it! And we are going home!”
245 hr update!!! We did it! And we are going home! pic.twitter.com/by9hJOLKRf— Brett Cross (@BCross052422) October 7, 2022
State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde, thanked the families on Friday in a statement.
“Thanks to the persistence of Brett Cross and all of the Uvalde families, a step towards accountability has been made today. UCISD has suspended its officers. This cannot be the end; we still need full transparency and justice from every agency and every level of government that failed us in Uvalde,” the senator wrote.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.