Nineteen police officers stood outside Robb Elementary School and waited an hour to break through a locked door because an incident commander believed no more lives were at risk.
Frantic 911 calls from children locked inside the classroom with the gunman, however, said otherwise, officials in Texas admitted on Friday.
‘With the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision,’ said Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
‘Clearly there were kids in the room. Clearly they were at risk,’ he said.
At least two children called 911 from inside the fourth grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas, McCraw said. Both of the students who are known to have called for help survived, while 19 of their classmates and their two teachers were killed.
One of the students who called for help, .’ She covered herself in a dead friend’s blood in order to appear dead to the gunman and survived.
A slew of startling details were revealed by McCraw during Friday’s briefing on the massacre, the second deadliest school shooting on record.
The incident commander, who McCraw did not name, had determined that the situation had shifted from an active shooter to a barricaded subject.
Because of this, the commander believed there was time to retrieve keys to the classroom door from a janitor and for the Border Patrol tactical team to arrive and enter the classroom behind shields.
Both the tactical team and other law enforcement officials were told at first not to engage with the gunman, McCraw said. As a result students were locked inside the classroom with the gunman for upwards of 40 minutes.
The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, arrived at the school at 11.28am, and began firing rounds into school windows. The school district police officer responding to the call ‘drove right by the subject’ by mistake, McCraw said.
The officer then pursued someone else he thought was the suspect, who was actually a teacher.
The gunman then entered the school building through a door that was left propped open by a teacher. He fired over 100 rounds of ammunition, according to McCraw.
Over the next 90 minutes, half a dozen 911 calls were made to emergency response officials, all while the 19 police officers amassed outside made ‘no effort’ to enter the locked classroom, McCraw said.
One female student made four 911 calls over the span of 13 minutes, pleading for help.
During her last call at 12.16pm, she said eight or nine students were still alive in the classroom. It’s unclear how many of these students were killed before police finally unlocked the classroom at 12.50pm, after getting a key from a janitor.
The news comes two days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott, incuriously said the massacre ‘could have been worse’ if not for the police.
‘The reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse,” Abbott said Wednesday, a day after the shooting. ‘The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do: They showed amazing courage by running toward gun fire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives.’
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