During this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school in Uvalde, students stuck inside a classroom with an 18-year-old gunman repeatedly dialed 911, including one who screamed, “Please send the police now,” as officers waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes, reported the Associated Press News.
According to Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the school district’s police chief assumed that Salvador Ramos was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School and that children were no longer in danger.
“It was the wrong decision,” said McCraw.
Teachers and students contacted 911 for assistance throughout the incident, including one girl who implored, “Please send the police now,” according to McCraw.
Ramos fatally shot 19 students and two teachers before the authorities could get into the classroom and kill him.
According to Friday’s briefing, authorities spent three days often delivering contradictory and inaccurate information about the 90 minutes that passed between the time Ramos entered the school and when U.S. Border Patrol agents entered the classroom.
According to McCraw, there were up to 19 police officers in the hallway outside the room when border agents planned to enter.
Although there was a burst of gunfire shortly after Ramos went into the classroom where he was killed, McCraw said the rounds were “sporadic” for most of the 48 minutes officers waited in the hallway. Investigators are not sure if or how many children died at that time, he added.
Questions have mounted over the time it took officers to enter the school to confront the gunman. Many family members of the students inside were onlookers on the school’s campus and urged police to enter the building sooner as authorities waited outside for more backup.
However, McCraw insisted that the police acted swiftly.
“The bottom line is law enforcement was there,” said McCraw. “They did engage immediately. They did contain [Ramos] in the classroom.”