The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that police responding to the shooting at an elementary school made the decision not to enter a classroom where the shooter was because they believed students were no longer at risk.
At a news conference outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said the incident commander at the scene of Tuesday’s school shooting judged there was no longer an active shooter or threat to children and thought it had transitioned to a hostage situation with time to wait for a tactical team to arrive.
McGraw identified the incident commander as Pete Arredondo, chief of police of the Uvalde Consolidated School District.
McGraw told reporters, with the benefit of hindsight, “it was the wrong decision” to wait to confront the shooter.
Uvalde police have come under sharp criticism from parents and bystanders at the scene Tuesday for their delay in confronting the shooter, Salvador Ramos, 18, who had entered the school through an unlocked door and killed 19 children and two teachers.
Officials said Ramos, a high school dropout, was in the school for 40 minutes to an hour before police stormed the fourth-grade classroom where the killings occurred.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott said Friday that he was misled about the police response to the school shooting.
Abbott, who had initially praised the police response, said Friday that he was livid to find out he had been given inaccurate information. He called for police actions to be "thoroughly, exhaustively" investigated.
McGraw said as many as 19 police officers arrived at the scene and were in a hallway of the school, but the incident commander felt a tactical team was needed to perform the required police operation.
U.S. Border Patrol tactical officers eventually arrived, along with other officers and equipment, including a ballistics shield. They entered the classroom where Ramos was situated and where he was shot and killed.
McGraw said based on sounds recorded on security cameras and shell casings found at the scene, Ramos fired more than 100 rounds during the incident.
The National Rifle Association went ahead with the opening of its annual convention Friday in the city of Houston, just days after the shooting. Abbott, who was scheduled to deliver an in-person address at the convention Friday, instead is addressing the convention with a prerecorded video message.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at the three-day event of the gun rights lobbying group, arguing that the mass shooting is not a reason to increase restrictions on gun ownership.
"The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens," he said, adding that “The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens."
He also called for drastically changing the nation's approach to mental health as well as a “top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across the country,” which he said should include eliminating gun-free school zones.
"As the age-old saying goes, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Trump said.
Outside the convention, hundreds of protesters and counterprotesters gathered to demonstrate both for and against gun restrictions.
Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, was one of those supporting pro-gun-control protesters.
"Those who will be the victims of the next mass shooting unless we act are counting on us at this moment," he said.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Uvalde on Sunday.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.