There were enough armed police to arrest Uvalde’s gunman three minutes after he entered the school, a senior official said.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, called the response an “abject failure” with “terrible decisions” made by the on-scene commander.
He reiterated his previous claim that as many as 19 officers waited for more than an hour in a hallway outside the classrooms before a Border Force task force entered and killed the shooter.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the May 24 attack.
Mr McCraw told a hearing in the Texas Senate on Tuesday: “The officers had guns, the kids didn’t. The officers had body armor, the kids didn’t. The officers had training, the subject had none.
“One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds – that’s how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in room 111 to be rescued.”
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there were a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and incapacitate the subject,” McCraw added.
His testimony comes after US media this week said officers with heavier firepower and tactical gear had arrived on the scene much earlier than expected – but still hasn’t stormed the classroom.
Parents outside the school at the time of the massacre had pleaded with law enforcement to take decisive action to save their children – some of whom desperately called 911.
There was also a delay in entering the classroom while officers searched for a key. However, the door was unlocked and there is no evidence officers even checked, the Texas public safety chief said.
“There is no way to lock the door from the inside and there is no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside,” McCraw told the Senate.
The police commander that day, Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo, was heavily criticized, and parents and community members called on him to resign.
Read more: The full timeline of the police response to the massacre
Mr McCraw told the Texas Senate: ‘The only thing stopping a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the lives of the officers before those of the children.”
He claimed Mr Arredondo had “waited for the radio and the guns, and he waited for the shields, and he waited for the SWAT”.
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There was ‘compelling evidence’ that the answer to Robb Elementary School was ‘an abject failure and contrary to everything we have been taught [after the Columbine shooting]“, Mr. McCraw added.
Mr Arredondo said earlier this month that he had not ordered officers to refrain from entering the building and that he had never considered himself the commander, assuming someone else had taken control.
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