Eleven officers, including the Uvalde school district police chief, responded to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary within three minutes of the gunman entering the school, a law enforcement source told CNN.
The source said officers remained stationed in an adjacent hallway after the gunman, later identified as Salvador Ramos, initially shot at them and hid in connecting classrooms 111 and 112, where he shot and killed 19 students and two teachers during what was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. elementary school since the 2012 incident at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo — who other officials identified as the incident commanders on scene during the shooting — had previously told the Texas Tribune that responding officers found the classroom doors locked and reinforced with a steel jamb, which slowed their response and possible rescue efforts.
However, preliminary evidence showed the officers made no attempt to open either classroom’s doors until right before taking down the gunman, according to the law enforcement source, as well as reports from the Texas Tribune and Austin American-Statesman.
Arredondo and responding authorities have faced criticism for the reported length of time elapsed from their initial response and when the gunman was killed.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s timeline pegs the shooter as having entered one of the classrooms and opening fire at 11:30 a.m., and was killed by officers at 12:50 p.m.
Surveillance footage and transcripts of radio traffic and calls obtained and reviewed by the Tribune — which were confirmed by a senior official at the Texas Department of Safety — confirmed that the shooter was inside classroom 111, exited the door for a brief moment and returned once again to open fire before 11 officers arrived on the scene moments later.
Arredondo is reported to have called the Uvalde Police Department’s dispatch by phone — claiming he didn’t have his radio on him at the time — shortly after Ramos opened fire at officers and requested assistance at the scene.
A report by the Tribune citing a transcript of the call states that “by the time Arredondo called dispatch, at least 11 officers had entered the school and at least two are seen in the video carrying rifles. But Arredondo told the dispatcher that he didn’t have the firepower to confront the lone gunman.”
You can read more on the response here.