The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Tuesday that the police response to last month's deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was an “abject failure."
"There's compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre," Col. Steven McCraw, the Texas public safety chief, said during a state Senate hearing on the massacre.
McCraw said there had been enough police officers at the school to stop the 18-year-old gunman three minutes after he entered the building.
"Three minutes after the subject entered the building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject," McCraw said.
In scathing testimony, McCraw put the blame squarely on Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who was in charge of the initial response to the May 24 attack.
McCraw said police waited more than 74 minutes to enter the classrooms where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers before he was fatally shot. And the officers never checked the classroom door to see if it was locked.
"The only thing stopping the 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," McCraw said. "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."
Arredondo said he didn’t consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response.
McCraw's testimony comes amid multiple ongoing investigations into the police response to the massacre as damning revelations continue to mount.
On Sunday, the San Antonio Express-News reported that video surveillance footage from the school did not show officers attempting to open the door leading to the classrooms where the massacre was happening. The New York Times reported two Uvalde city police officers passed up a chance to shoot the gunman while he was still outside the school because they feared they would hit children.
And on Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that multiple police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield arrived at the school within 19 minutes of the gunman's arrival on campus — earlier than previously known.