On to the next fight: Uvalde families focused on future after UCISD police suspension

Uvalde’s families say they don’t like Friday’s announcement but see it as a productive first step towards transparency and accountability.

UVALDE, Texas – “We will turn to the next battle.”

Those words were tweeted Friday Night by Brett Cross. He is the father of Uziyah Garcia who died in a shooting at Robb Primary School in Uvalde on 24 May.

This follows the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s announcement that they are suspending the entire UCISD Police Department.

In the days leading up to this decision, the parents of the children who died camped out for 245 hours outside the district administration office, demanding that officials be held accountable.

Jesse Rizo, the uncle of 9-year-old Jackie Cazares, says he takes no joy in the decision and says no one wins in this case.

“The kids can’t come home, people have to retire early, people get suspended,” he explained. “But it’s something called transparency and something called accountability.”

Also in a memo sent on Friday, the possibility is raised that District Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell, will be retiring.

Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, says these developments are just one piece of the puzzle that needs to be solved.

“We still haven’t heard the involvement of the Uvalde police, why some of their officers are still patrolling our streets and taking security jobs,” Rubio said. “DPS is investigating, but we don’t know who they’re investigating other than Officer Elizondo. A lot of parts are missing.”

Rubio says she has mixed feelings about Dr. Harrell’s possible resignation, but plans to be present at Monday’s board meeting when the matter will be discussed for the first time.

She added that there are still so many questions that need to be answered and families owe an explanation.

“I want to know when the officers got there, what information they were given and how they reacted with that information? There’s a lot we still have questions about,” Rubio said.

While UCISD officers are suspended, they will fill other roles in the district.

In a letter to UCISD officials Friday, the district also announced that acting UCISD Chief of Police Lt. Mike Hernandez and Student Services Director Ken Mueller are on administrative leave. Müller instead preferred to retire.

“We’re happy with that, but it’s not over yet,” said Rizo. “You still don’t know why.”

Rizo says it’s imperative that we learn how we got to where we are today and that the district make better-informed decisions when hiring new employees.

He believes that for Dr. Harrell’s time to retire.

“Dr. Harrell is a nice man, a very popular man. He’s been in the community for a very long time, but unfortunately this tragedy was poorly handled from the start — even before May 24,” Rizo said.

As for who will fill the UCISD officer gap, the district requested additional soldiers on their campus. DPS will also help patrol extracurricular activities.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/texas/uvalde-fammilies-shooting-suspension-police/273-5fc896d1-2f42-4e71-a73f-b4bb6a75d9c8 On to the next fight: Uvalde families focused on future after UCISD police suspension

Laura Coffey

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