A missing pistol that prompted criticism of gubernatorial candidate and former sheriff Lupe Valdez has been found inside the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, the department says.
The sheriff's department said Tuesday the Beretta 9mm pistol issued to Valdez and reported last week to be missing was found during a "thorough inventory of every weapon" in the property room.
"After a previous audit failed to locate the weapon, current interim Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown ordered another inventory be completed on the Sheriff’s Property Room yesterday," the sheriff's office said Tuesday morning.
During that search, the pistol issued to Valdez in 2011, after her own weapon malfunctioned, was found.
The sheriff's office said they now believe the gun was surrendered Jan. 2 and mistakenly not entered into inventory at that time.
The sheriff's department said they notified Valdez the weapon had been found and issued her an apology for any distress and hardship caused by the mistake.
"The error is on the department. We accept responsibility for it," Brown told NBC 5 Tuesday
Valdez said Tuesday the incident further illustrates the importance of gun owner accountability and thanked Brown for her diligence in resolving the issue.
"As I have previously stated, I have been a responsible gun owner for over 40 years. Throughout my law enforcement and military career I have always followed protocol when returning issued property," Valdez said.
Valdez said the same last week, that she followed protocol to return the weapon and believed it was misplaced during her transition from sheriff to gubernatorial candidate.
Valdez, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this fall. Once news of the missing weapon made headlines, Abbott's campaign quickly turned to Twitter and questioned whether Valdez could be trusted to manage the state's affairs if she couldn't be trusted to keep track of her gun.
When asked for comment now that the weapon has been found in the possession of the sheriff's department, the Abbott campaign released the following statement.
"The mismanagement during Lupe Valdez’s tenure at the sheriff’s department boggles the mind. After 12 years of failed leadership at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, this latest fiasco highlights her irresponsible management skills. For Texans to put their trust behind Lupe Valdez, a much higher standard should be demanded," said Alejandro Trevino, campaign spokesman for Texans for Greg Abbott.
Valdez said Tuesday afternoon that "as a law enforcement officer, I made a commitment to keep the public safe and will continue to do so."
"My opponent considered this a slam dunk, thinking this would distract from his unwillingness to keep our communities safe from gun violence, but I will not be strong armed from keeping him accountable for his failures or be silenced on the need for gun reform," Valdez said.
Meanwhile, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said they will review how the oversight occurred and will make changes to insure this type of incident does not occur again.