Editor’s Note: After receiving new information from Maldonado in January 2023, this story has been updated to clarify he was able to retire in lieu of termination.
This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
UVALDE, Texas (Nexstar) — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper — who was one of the first to respond to the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde — has been served termination papers, multiple sources confirm to Nexstar.
DPS confirmed on Friday night that Sgt. Juan Maldonado was served termination papers earlier in the day.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), a parent of one of the victims and a law enforcement source all confirmed the report to Nexstar earlier Friday evening as well.
Maldonado is the first DPS official to be given termination papers in response to the mass shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. He was later given the option to retire in lieu of termination.
Previously-released body camera footage from a Uvalde city police officer shows Maldonado was on scene at Robb Elementary School within minutes after the gunman entered the building. Maldonado is seen on Sgt. Eduardo Canales’ bodycam video as early as 11:37 a.m. According to DPS’ timeline of events, the gunman entered the school through a west door at 11:33 a.m.
Gutierrez and a law enforcement source confirmed with Nexstar that Maldonado can be seen in Sgt. Canales’ bodycam footage. He has also been identified in this footage by several other media outlets.
In the video, Canales can be heard saying “We gotta get in there,” to which Maldonado responds “DPS is sending people.” Canales responded saying “He keeps shooting. We gotta get in there.”
Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, said the termination of Maldonado is “not enough.”
“DPS wants to bamboozle the public by doing a very, very bare minimum,” he said. “It is time for Steve McCraw to resign. It is time for the people that were at that scene that were in charge to resign. And it is time that we get to the bottom of what actually happened here so that policymakers can ensure that it never happens again.”
Ninety-one DPS troopers responded to Robb Elementary on May 24, after responders got reports of an active shooter situation. At least seven officers were put under investigation for their response to the shooting. DPS has not released any names or information about them.
Maldonado’s termination papers come after turmoil with the Uvalde school district earlier this month, when documents revealed a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper — who responded to the school shooting and is under investigation for her response — was hired into the UCISD Police Department. The district fired Officer Crimson Elizondo after media reports detailed her hiring.
After terminating Elizondo on Oct. 6, the district suspended its entire school police force amid mounting pressure from victims’ families. Some, camping outside district grounds for ten days in a row with calls for accountability. Up until then, former Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo was one of the only responders to be terminated, which occured in August.
Officers’ actions have been widely criticized in the wake of the shooting, with Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw calling the shooting response “an abject failure.”
In early September after KXAN obtained and reported minutes from a DPS captains’ meeting where McCraw said “no one is losing their jobs,” Texas’ top law enforcement official pledged to CNN “I’ll be the first to resign…if I think there is any culpability in the Department of Public Safety. Period.” McCraw has disputed that he said no one will lose jobs over response to Uvalde, saying he was referring to one indiviudal within the department.