The police 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 victims, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said on Tuesday.
Police actions after the gunman entered Robb Elementary School and began shooting have come under close scrutiny amid anguished parents' anger over the slow response.
Survivors, including children, were calling emergency services from the classroom long after the killer had entered with an AR-15 semi-automatic-style rifle, while police officers stood in the hallway outside the room, waiting for backup and tactical gear.
“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 learnt,” Mr McCraw said at a Texas Senate hearing on the May 24 mass shooting.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armour to isolate, distract and neutralise the subject,” Mr 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.
Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, said earlier this month he never considered himself the incident commander at the scene and that he did not order police to hold back on breaching the building.
Community members along with parents of the victims urged Mr Arredondo to resign during an impassioned school board meeting on Monday night, ABC News reported.
- With Reuters