The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) fired a state trooper Friday who responded to the May shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
On May 24, 19 students and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary school after a gunman entered and opened fire in the building. From the time the first officers arrived on the scene, it took them more than an hour to breach the classroom and kill the suspect, according to a July report obtained by CBS News.
Sgt. Juan Maldonado was on the scene at the school within four minutes of the shooting, but did not go inside the building, a DPS spokesperson told multiple outlets. He is the third law enforcement official to be sacked for the response to the shooting and the highest-ranking officer at the scene.
Uvalde Police Department SWAT commander Sgt. Eduardo Canales, who suffered a grazed bullet wound fired by the gunman, came out of a school door and told Maldonado, “Dude, we got to get in there,” the Texas Tribune reported.
In the news: Pentagon’s Suicide Report Shows How Deep The Army’s Problems Go
“DPS is sending people,” Maldonado responded, according to the outlet.
“My focus was saving kids, saving whoever I could save, because it was just a horrible situation,” Maldonado said, according to an investigative report obtained by the Tribune. “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.”
Maldonado’s firing a comes just one day after DPS ordered an investigation into Texas State Police Cpt. Joel Betancourt, who allegedly barred law enforcement from entering the school while the gunman opened fire. Betancourt ordered a team to wait more than 70 minutes before responding to the attack, audio recordings published by CNN revealed.