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    Acting Uvalde police chief during shooting steps down

    DALLAS (AP) – The Uvalde officer who was leading the city’s police department during the hesitant law enforcement response to an elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers has stepped down, a city spokeswoman said.

    Lieutenant Mariano Pargas retired on Thursday afternoon after 18 years working for the city, according to spokeswoman Gina Eisenberg. She said his retirement was immediate but the city is still processing the paperwork.

    Pargas is the second police leader to leave law enforcement in the fallout since the massacre in May, when hundreds of officers waited more than an hour to confront the gunman inside a classroom at Robb Elementary School.

    His retirement comes ahead of a meeting at which the city council was set to consider firing him.

    City police Lieutenant Mariano Pargas responds to a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. PHOTO: AP

    The city placed Pargas, who was running the department during the shooting, on administrative leave in July following a damning report from lawmakers on the police response. His departure comes days after new audio highlighted that Pargas was told there were children alive in a classroom with the gunman half an hour before officers breached the room.

    In the months after the shooting, state officials have focussed blame on the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, saying he made “terrible decisions” as the on-scene commander not to confront the gunman sooner.

    Arredondo was fired in August but has said he didn’t consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the police response that eventually swelled to nearly 400 officers.

    Audio recordings published by CNN show that as officers were massing around the school a dispatcher told Pargas there were “eight to nine” kids still alive inside the classroom where the shooter was holed up. Pargas can be heard acknowledging the information but more than 30 minutes would pass before a tactical team entered and killed the gunman.

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