The law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers was "an abject failure" in which a commander put the lives of officers over those of the children, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw said on Tuesday.
"There is compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned," McCraw said.
Police actions after the gunman entered Robb Elementary School and began shooting have come under close scrutiny, with many parents and relatives expressing deep anger over the response.
The Texas DPS, days after the shooting, said that as many as 19 officers waited over an hour in a hallway outside classrooms 111 and 112 before a U.S. Border Patrol-led tactical team finally made entry. McCraw reiterated that in the hearing on Tuesday.
The classroom door in the elementary school was not locked even as police waited for a key, and there was no evidence any law enforcement officer ever tried the classroom door to see if it was locked, McCraw said at a Texas Senate hearing into the May 24 mass shooting.
"I don't believe based on the information we have right now that door was ever secured," the director added. "He (the shooter) didn't have a key ... and he couldn't lock it from the inside.
"The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds - that is how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued," the DPS director said.
"Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject," McCraw added.
"The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111, and 112, was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children," the director said in the hearing.
McCraw said the scene commander, Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, "waited for radio and rifles, and he waited for shields and he waited for SWAT."
Arredondo earlier this month said he never considered himself the incident commander of the scene of the shooting, and that he did not order police to hold back on breaching the building.
Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he left his two radios outside the school because he wanted his hands free to hold his gun. He had said he called for tactical gear, a sniper and keys to get inside, holding back from the doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking sprays of gunfire.
Community members along with parents of the victims urged Arredondo to resign during an
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