(BBC) – There were enough police on the scene of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, Texas’s public safety chief has testified.
Steven McCraw told a state Senate hearing the police response was an “abject failure”.
He accused the on-scene commander of placing officers’ lives above the children’s.
Police waited for over an hour outside classrooms before a team made entry.
Mr McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), told the public hearing: “The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armour, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds – that is how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armour to isolate, distract and neutralise the subject.”
Many parents and relatives have expressed deep anger at the police handling of the mass shooting, which killed 21 people -19 students and two teachers – at Robb Elementary School on 24 May.
The DPS chief said the scene commander, Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, “waited for radio and rifles, and he waited for shields and he waited for SWAT”.
Earlier in June, Mr Arredondo said he had not considered himself the incident commander, and did not order police to hold back.
He also told the Texas Tribune that he had left his two radios outside the school to keep his hands free to hold his gun.
Earlier on Tuesday the first images emerged showing armed police with rifles and at least one ballistic shield waiting in a school corridor.
The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, which have seen investigative documents, said police had arrived earlier in the attack and with more firepower than was previously reported.
The new information shows Mr Arredondo tried to speak to the gunman, asking him whether he could hear him, the Austin American-Statesman says.
Police waited for a master key to arrive so that the classroom doors could be opened, even though it had not been established that the doors were locked, while tools were also available that could have been used to break them down, the Texas Tribune reported.
The gunman was eventually shot dead by members of the US Border Patrol Tactical Unit.
During the attack, children were frantically calling 911 to report multiple gunshot victims. Worried parents also tried to rush into the school, as police physically prevented them from entering.
Texas police have not publicly commented on the latest reports.
The attack by an 18-year-old – identified as Salvador Ramos – has led to renewed national debate about gun regulations.