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Waiting to confront Texas school shooter was ‘the wrong decision,’ police admit along with string of other failures

People mourn the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, in front of the Uvalde County Courthouse, Texas, May 26, 2022.
Veronica Cardenas | Reuters

Police admitted to a stunning string of failures — including driving right by the gunman — in responding to the Texas school shooting while children were being massacred inside, with the head of the state’s Department of Public Safety saying the time for making excuses about the botched response was over.

The Friday news conference came after days of confusion, inconsistencies and a muddled timeline of law enforcement’s response to the rampage at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Speaking on the delay in breaching the classroom where the shooter was, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said that “from the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that.”

“There were children in that classroom that were still at risk,” he added.

McCraw also revealed that the gunman entered the school through a back door he found propped open and that at least 100 shots were fired in the harrowing attack.

Among the more stark revelations at the news conference:

A school resource officer was not already stationed at the school. When he arrived at the scene, he inadvertently passed the shooter, who was crouched down next to a car.The back door of the school was propped open by a teacher. This is how the gunman made entry. One desperate 911 call came from a little girl in a classroom the gunman stormed. “Please send the police now,” she said.At least two children called 911 pleading for help. They survived the shooting, McCraw said.McCraw said the on-scene commander believed “this was a barricaded subject situation” and did not think there were “more children at risk.”Fifty-eight magazines were recovered. Three were on the shooter’s body, two were found in classroom 112 and six in classroom 111. Five others were found on the ground, and one was in the rifle the gunman wielded. The shooter asked his sister to buy him a gun in September 2021 and she refused.The gunman made several alarming posts on Instagram. In a group chat of four people in March, he made comments about buying a gun. On March 14, he posted on Instagram “10 more days.” When a user asked if he was going to shoot up a school, he said: “No. Stop asking dumb questions and you’ll see.”

McCraw was overwhelmed with reporters demanding an explanation into the time delay in breaching the classroom.

“A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject situation, there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point,” he explained. “That was the decision, that was the thought process at that particular point in time.”

More from NBC News:

Police waited an hour for backup in the Uvalde shooting. That’s an outdated tactic, experts say.Surgeon on treating Texas shooting victims: ‘Moment of crisis with lifetime of impact’Maker of rifle used by Texas gunman draws fury for ‘incendiary’ ads

Texas law enforcement officials have been under intense scrutiny for their handling of the attack after it was revealed that it took over an hour to stop the shooter. Uvalde Police Department allegedly prevented agents from Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement who arrived at the school between 12 p.m. and 12:10 p.m. — earlier than previously reported — from going inside, two officials told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity. It’s not clear why they weren’t allowed to enter the school. NBC News has not independently verified the report.

Officials said Thursday that responding officers waited for backup before moving in as the gunman was holed up in a classroom — a move one expert called “disgusting.”

They also revealed that the gunman was not confronted by a school police officer upon arriving and entered the building unobstructed. Police said earlier that a school resource officer had confronted the shooter before he entered the building.

The massacre is the latest in a spate of deadly shootings in which Black, Asian and Latino communities have been targeted. The shooting Tuesday has torn at the heart of the tightknit community in Uvalde, just an hour drive northeast of the Mexican border and home to a large Latino community.

And it has once again spurred debate over gun rights in Texas, a state with some of the most vigilant Second Amendment defenders in power.

On Friday, thousands of gun owners, protesters and prominent Republicans touched down in Houston for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting — just three days after the Uvalde tragedy. About 70,000 people are expected to attend the convention over three days.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to address the convention, but skipped the event to return to Uvalde.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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