The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted on Friday that it was the “wrong decision” for more than a dozen officers to wait outside a classroom door as a shooter killed children inside earlier this week.
“With the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, there was no excuse for that,” DPS director and colonel Steven McCraw told reporters.
The admission comes days after 19 children and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
At least 19 police officers waited outside of the classroom door where the suspect was shooting because a commanding officer on scene believed it was a “barricaded subject” and not an active shooter. That officer was wrong.
“I wasn’t there, but I’m telling you from what we know,” McCraw told reporters. “When there’s an active shooter, the rules change, it’s no longer a barricaded subject, you don’t have time.”
More than 40 minutes passed from the time the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school to when he was eventually killed. During that time, children placed calls to 911 begging for help as operators could hear gunshots being fired in the background, McCraw said.
But police stood by, because an unnamed commanding officer believed the gunman had barricaded himself and wanted to wait for a tactical team instead of engaging with the gunman.
“I wasn’t there,” McCraw repeated at the press conference, “but a decision was made that this was a barricaded subject, and that there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with equipment to breach the doors. ”
“That was the thought process at that particular time,” McCraw added.
In one of the 911 calls that took place just after noon, a girl said 12 people in her classroom were dead but that eight to nine students were still alive. Minutes later, at 12:21 pm, an operator could hear three shots fired in the background. Police outside the room still didn’t act, according to the new timeline provided by McCraw.
Police were eventually able to get keys from the school janitor to enter the classrooms, where they finally killed the gunman.