Multiple Texas police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield stood and waited in a school hallway for nearly an hour while a gunman carried out a massacre of 19 elementary students and two teachers, the Associated Press reports. The officers with heavier firepower and tactical equipment were there within 19 minutes of the gunman's arriving on campus, earlier than previously known, according to documents reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV. The outlets’ report released Monday intensifies the anguish and questions over why police didn’t act sooner to stop the May 24 slaughter in the Robb Elementary School classroom. The information is being presented to a Texas Senate hearing in Austin on Tuesday. Investigators say the latest information indicates officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they finally did. At the hearing, Texas public safety director Steven McCraw called the policer response in Uvalde an "abject failure."
The timeline the outlets reported included footage from inside the school that showed the 18-year-old gunman casually entering a rear door at 11:33 a.m., walking to a classroom and immediately spraying gunfire before barricading himself. Video showed 11 officers entering the school three minutes later. It wasn't until 12:46 p.m., nearly 70 minutes later, that school district police Chief Pete Arredondo told his tactical team members to breach the door. Within that 70 minutes, Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department for help, three ballistic shields arrived at different times, and Arredondo's team struggled to find the key to the classroom where the suspect was barricaded, though no one is believed to have tried opening the door. Delays in the law enforcement response have been the focus of the federal, state and local investigation of the massacre and its aftermath. Arredondo has said he didn't consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response.