Troopers with the Department of Public Safety — some with ballistic shields — waited in the hallways of Robb Elementary School while a gunman was locked inside two adjoining classrooms, killing 19 students and two teachers, according to State Sen. Roland Gutierrez.
Gutierrez told KSAT that at any given time, two to 13 DPS troopers were inside the school during the May 24 massacre, which spanned roughly 80 minutes. The San Antonio Express-News was the first to report the revelation on Monday.
That information came directly from DPS Director Steven McCraw, according to Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde.
Gutierrez said that some of the troopers had ballistic shields, and McGraw regretted “standing down.”
According to the Express-News, McGraw told Gutierrez that they had enough protection and manpower to break down the door.
It is unclear why DPS didn’t take over command of the shooting scene from Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Pete Arredondo.
In the three weeks since the shooting, Arredondo has come under fire for not sending in officers to confront the 18-year-old gunman sooner.
McGraw previously said that Arredondo believed the active shooter situation turned into a hostage situation.
“It was the wrong decision,” McGraw previously said in a news conference.
Arredondo and DPS have previously said they didn’t breach the door sooner because the gunman kept opening fire from inside the classroom, piercing the door and walls.
Last week, Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he ran into the school without keys or a radio, and he did not know that students inside the room with the gunman were calling 911, begging for help.
He added that no one in the hallways relayed that information to him, and law enforcement officers in the hallway tried to remain quiet to not attract attention from the gunman.
He waited in the hallway himself and called dispatch on his cellphone to ask for a SWAT team, snipers and extrication tools to open the door.
Arredondo said he assumed that someone else took control of the larger response since he was inside, acting as a front-line responder. He also said he never considered himself the incident commander.
The rampage didn’t come to an end until other officers got a key to open the door. The group of officers, including some from the U.S. Border Patrol, entered the room and killed the gunman at around 12:50 p.m., 77 minutes after the shooter entered the school.
In a closed-door session at the state capitol in Austin on Thursday, McCraw said that Arredondo made the call to allow time for more protective gear to arrive, though he knew some people inside the rooms needed urgent care.
Arredondo was reportedly aware that police needed to move faster and was heard saying, “People are going to ask why we’re taking so long,” an official confirmed to ABC News.