The Texas Department of Public Safety has fired an officer who was among the responders to the mass shooting in Uvalde amid intense scrutiny into how law enforcement reacted as the tragedy unfolded.
Sgt. Juan Maldonado is the first member of the state police force to be fired after the fallout of the shooting in May that killed 19 children and 2 teachers. Officials did not divulge the exact reason for the decision, but a department spokesperson told ABC News the termination papers were served on Friday.
The Texas Department of Public Safety declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Surveillance footage has shown that nearly 400 officers waited for 77 minutes as children were shot in their classrooms. State troopers were among the first batch of officers to arrive on the scene.
Body camera footage released by the Uvalde Police Department showed that one state officer, identified by the Texas Tribune as Maldonado, was outside the school within four minutes of the shooting. Local SWAT commander Sgt. Eduardo Canales’s body camera showed that he encountered Maldonado outside the building after the shooter had fired more than 100 rounds.
“Dude, we got to get in there,” Canales tells Maldonado in the video. “DPS is sending people,” Maldonado replies.
An internal record revealed that Maldonado told investigators he was focused on maintaining the perimeter of an external school building as other officers waited to confront the shooter. He was one of the seven state officers under internal investigation for the failed response.
“My focus was saving kids, saving whoever I could save, because it was just a horrible situation,” Maldonado reportedly said during the investigation. “Now if someone gave me a command ... and they told me, ‘Hey you need to go here,’ I’m going to follow that instruction because that’s what I’m told to do and I’m going to follow my orders.”
Law enforcement and state officials have been accused of attempting to minimize their responsibility for the Uvalde shooting. The school district police chief, who was supposed to be in charge during the shooting response, was fired in August. That decision was made after report in July detailed a “void of leadership” among police, and records showed children locked inside were still calling 911 pleading for help more than an hour into the massacre.