The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District fired a recently hired school police officer after learning she was not only present at the Robb Elementary School shooting, but under investigation for her actions that day.
Crimson Elizondo – a state trooper in May – was one of the first Department of Public Safety officers at the scene of the shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Nearly 400 law enforcement personnel were present in and around Robb Elementary that day, but the shooter remained active for over an hour before he was confronted.
Elizondo and six other DPS officers are under investigation for their response to the attack. Elizondo subsequently left her job as a state trooper and was hired by the Uvalde district over the summer as part of an effort to boost school security in the wake of the tragedy. She was fired less than a day after CNN identified her as one of the officers under investigation for her conduct on the day of the shooting.
Shimon Prokupecz, the CNN reporter who broke the news about Elizondo, joined the Texas Standard to discuss recent developments in Uvalde. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Elizondo has come under fire for video footage of her around Robb Elementary School on the day of the shooting. Could you describe what that footage shows and why it’s prompted this sort of reaction?
Shimon Prokupecz: Well, there’s two things there. First, the video shows her on the day of the shooting, which is why she was under investigation by the Inspector General for the DPS. Investigators there felt that there were some issues with her performance, so they wanted to investigate her.
Then, during the course of that investigation, they discovered that there was body camera footage of her making some comments at the end. This all happens after the remaining kids in the classroom were rescued and the gunman was killed by the police. She said that if her son had been inside that classroom, she would not have been outside, indicating that she would have gone in.
There’s all kinds of questions, you know – whether or not she should have gone in sooner, whether or not she should have done more that day to try and get to the gunman. That’s why some of the investigators even took issue with some of her comments. It all came at the end when other officers were asking her, “How are you doing? Where’s your son? Was your son inside?” And that’s what she said.
A lot of people are wondering if the Uvalde school district knew or should have known that Elizondo was under investigation when they hired her over the summer. Would that sort of information have been discoverable through a typical background check?
Yes. In fact, it was, according to the DPS, the Uvalde school district, and the police there. Lt. Miguel Hernandez actually submitted a request for a background check on her. And within days the Texas DPS provided that to him. In a letter that we obtained that the DPS made public, it said that she was under investigation. They told the school district as early as Aug. 1, before she was hired, that she was under investigation.
They don’t say why – what the incident was – but they do specifically mention she’s under investigation for her performance. But it wouldn’t have taken a lot to figure out where she was on the day of the shooting. It just seems like the school district didn’t do their due diligence, but they knew. They had a letter from the DPS saying that she was under investigation.
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How did the victims’ families and community members respond when they learned that news? Do you think that that response has brought about these changes in the police department for the school district?
The family members were very upset. I told them about it before we ran the story because I felt it was necessary so that they’re not surprised, so they’re not sitting at home and hearing this news through other people. We gave the families a heads-up that this story was coming, and their initial reaction was just complete shock.
This has been such a difficult journey. Obviously, they’ve lost their kids. Their kids have been hurt. Their lives will never be the same. They keep getting hurt, and they feel they keep getting disrespected by a system that’s supposed to be there for them and protect them and help them through this process. And to see the school district hire someone who was present on the day of the Robb Elementary School shooting as a police officer in the elementary school – not only that, but that she was under investigation for her performance – was certainly such a gut punch for them.
It was such a hurt. They hurt so much because of it. And now we’re seeing the changes. And a lot of it is because of their protests. A lot of it is because of their demand for change.
Texas state troopers have been asked to handle security for schools in the interim now that the Uvalde CISD has suspended its police department. Where does the district go from here?
It’s going to be a hard road for them. The families won’t stop until they see full change. The Texas DPS will be handling security, but they can’t do it forever. Policing right now in that community is greatly in danger. There is no trust between the community and the police. It’s going to be a very difficult process. Until all the information is released and everything is put forward, it’s going to be very difficult for that community to move forward, and certainly difficult for the police department and the other law enforcement officials to move forward. They have a lot of work ahead of them.