Multiple police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield were on site at the Texas school shooting within 19 minutes – but they didn’t breach the classroom and stop the gunman for another hour, new reports suggest.
According to documents reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper and local KVUE-TV, officers with heavier firepower and tactical equipment were at the Robb Elementary School much earlier than first reported.
It marks the latest embarrassing revelation in what many perceive as a failure of law enforcement to stop the attack.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed on 24 May when high school dropout Salvador Ramoswent on a murderous rampage at the Uvalde school with an assault rifle.
He was eventually shot dead but distraught parents outside had pleaded with police to go in much sooner than they did – over an hour later according to some reports.
Uvalde Police chief Daniel Rodriguez maintained officers responded “within minutes” of the incident.
But at the press conference a few days after the tragedy, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted the “wrong decision” had been made not to breach the classroom door sooner.
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“From the benefit of hindsight, of course, it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision,” he said.
The media outlets’ new report is to be presented to a public Texas Senate hearing in Austin on Tuesday.
Investigators say the latest information indicates officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they finally did.
The timeline the American-Statesman and KVUE reported from the documents included footage from inside the school that showed the 18-year-old gunman casually entering a rear door at 11.33am, walking to a classroom and immediately spraying gunfire before barricading himself.
Video showed 11 officers entering the school three minutes later, the outlets reported.
School district police chief Pete Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department and reported their suspect had “shot a lot” with an AR-15-style rifle and outgunned the officers at the school, who he said were armed only with pistols.
Four minutes later, they say, at 11.44 am, body camera video recorded the sound of more gunshots.
At 11.52am the first ballistic shield arrived as officers grew impatient to act.
Another officer with a ballistic shield arrived at 12.03pm, and another came with a shield two minutes later, the reports say.
Only at 12.46pm did Mr Arredondo tell the tactical team members to breach the door when ready, the outlets reported.
Delays in the law enforcement response have been the focus of the federal, state and local investigation of the massacre and its aftermath.
Victim’s father says daughter’s death “cannot have been in vain and something needs to change”
Bereaved parents are furious law enforcement did storm the classroom, even as trapped fourth graders inside were desperately calling 911 for help.
Mr Arredondo has since said he didn’t consider himself the person in charge at the scene as he assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response.
Lyliana Garcia, 16, is the daughter of teacher Irma Garcia, who was killed in the shooting, and José Garcia, who died of a heart attack two days later.
The couple had four children including Lyliana.
She told the school board: “The knowledge of being orphaned at such a young age is inconceivable.
“These are the consequences my family has to suffer due to the lack of due diligence. I would like to share a quote of one of my sister’s agonising cries. She said, ‘My mom died protecting her students, but who was protecting my mom?'”