Mariano Pargas Jr. served as acting Uvalde police chief during the 2022 mass shooting and was determined to be most appropriate to take command of the scene.
SAN ANTONIO — Renewed calls for accountability have emerged almost a week after the U.S. Department of Justice released a nearly 600-page report criticizing law enforcement’s delayed response on May 24, 2022, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
Victims’ families filled the Uvalde County Commissioner’s Court chambers on Monday morning, expressing demands during the finance portion of the agenda, for Precinct 2 Commissioner Mariano Pargas Jr. to step down.
But once again, families addressed a vacant seat belonging to Pargas who served as the Uvalde acting police chief the day of the tragedy.
“Pargas has shown that he will abandon you and especially your children and in that seat he has abandoned us again today,” said Brett Cross, father of Uziyah Garcia, who was killed in the Robb Elementary shooting.
Pargas was among nearly 400 law enforcement officers who responded to Robb Elementary. Pargas and at-the-time Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo were scrutinized for their actions in which the DOJ’s critical incident review outlined lacking leadership and urgency.
While Arredondo ended up getting fired, Pargas retired from the police department in late November 2022, while maintaining his seat as Precinct 2 county commissioner.
Cross commented on Pargas’ history of leadership qualifications, at least as indicated through the DOJ review.
“He had leadership training. He had acquired 188 hours of leadership training,” Cross said.
The DOJ’s findings revealed lacking leadership by Pargas and Arredondo. According to the review, Pargas was in the best position to take command and control.
“I don’t believe Mariano Pargas should be paid by the citizens of Uvalde because of his colossal failure to respond effectively and lead as the acting chief of police in Uvalde,” said Velma Lisa Duran, sister of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers who died in the shooting.
“We’re paying a man that did nothing,” said Jamie Torres, mother of Robb Elementary shooting survivor Khloie Torres. “My daughter sat in there for 77 minutes and begged. She’s the one that made phone calls begging for help and no one came.”
Jesse Rizo, who lost his niece Jacklyn Cazares in the tragedy, stressed the focus on holding people accountable will never end.
“I think the Judge can talk some sense into Mr. Pargas and that’s to get him to step down. He’s a constant reminder of the failure that happened on May 24,” Rizo said.
He’s also calling on Uvalde County Constables Emmanuel Zamora and Johnny Field to resign in addition to Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco, all of whom didn’t question Pargas’ leadership in response to the shooting.
Pargas’ office did not accommodate KENS 5’s request for comment or an interview.
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