Mariano Pargas: Uvalde police chief knew children were trapped with gunman but failed to act, reveals audio

Pargas who was suspended amid a probe into to the massacre was relayed details of the horrifying 911 call of fourth-grader Khloie Torres

Mariano Pargas: Uvalde police chief knew children were trapped with gunman but failed to act, reveals audio
Lt Mariano Pargas was told children needed to be rescued from inside Robb Elementary roughly 40 minutes before officers stormed in (Uvalde PD and Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
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UVALDE, TEXAS: It appears that it took at least 40 minutes for the acting police chief of Uvalde to enter the building to help the children, according to a recent phone conversation. According to information provided to the official, the shooter who eventually killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School was in a classroom with "eight to nine" other children who needed to be rescued.

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According to the audio recording obtained by CNN, Uvalde's acting police chief, Lieutenant Mariano Pargas, contacted dispatchers after they relayed an emergency call from 10-year-old student Khloie Torres, in which she claimed she was in a room "full of victims." This occurred on May 24, about 45 minutes after 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos entered the school and began shooting.

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Six minutes after Torres' call and four minutes after the information she supplied was broadcast over the police radio, Pargas, who was suspended amid an investigation into the bungled police reaction to the massacre, reportedly made contact with dispatchers. Torres was still on the phone with them, while Pargas spoke with the dispatchers. "The calls you got in from the … from one of the students, what did they say?" At 12:16 p.m., Pargas could be heard asking the dispatcher. The dispatcher responded: “OK, Khloie’s going to be, it’s Khloie. She’s in Room 112, Mariano, 112.” The dispatcher responded when Pargas enquired as to how many children were still alive: "Eight to nine are still alive. She’s not too sure … She’s not too sure how many are actually DOA or possibly injured. We’re trying …” The acting police chief said to the dispatcher, "OK, OK thanks," just before hanging up, as per reported by NY Post.

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The Uvalde Police Department's top official that day, Pargas, was seen on surveillance footage leaving the hallway near Room 112 at around 12.20 p.m., where the dispatcher had informed Pargas that Torres and the other kids were inside. It took Pargas more than 30 minutes to arrive at the classroom door where police had gathered.

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19 students and two teachers were killed during the 77 minutes the shooter spent camped out inside the school. Following the incident, there was widespread criticism about the police response—or lack thereof. Additionally, other investigations were started, which resulted in the suspension of Pargas. 

“I want to defend myself. I really do,” Pargas said. “There’s a lot of stuff that I can explain, that I would love to defend myself. And that’s the problem we’re having right now … the victims and everybody’s saying everything they want to say, but we can’t say nothing because we were told not to talk to, you know, we can’t say anything cause we’re still under that, not to talk to any, media or anything.” He added: “It’s not that we’re afraid because there’s nothing to be afraid of. We did what we could, but the thing is that we’ve been told that we can’t [speak publicly].”

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