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Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting in Uvalde, Tex., on May 24.Pete Luna/Uvalde Leader-News/Reuters

Police lingered for more than an hour outside locked classrooms at Robb Elementary School while dozens of students were trapped inside with a school shooter, even as some of those children made whispered 911 calls, begging for help.

The minute-to-minute breakdown of the police response was provided for the first time at a news conference Friday outside the school in Uvalde, Tex., where 19 children and two teachers were killed Tuesday in the third deadliest school shooting in American history.

Earlier this week, video footage that circulated online showed frantic parents outside the school during the shooting, begging the police to go in and in some cases pleading to be allowed to go in themselves.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said at the news conference that the commanding officer at the scene during the shooting – whom he identified as the chief of the Uvalde Consolidated School District Police Department, Pete Arradondo – instructed the initial responding officers to wait before moving in.

Lifting up in prayers? Texas school shooting shows the only thing Republicans are lifting up is profits of gun makers

“The on-scene commander at the time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter [situation] to a barricaded subject – that there was time, and there were no more children at risk,” Col. McCraw told reporters.

“From the benefit of hindsight ... of course it was not the right decision,” he said. “It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.”

The shooting began Tuesday morning when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos shot his grandmother in the face and took off in her pickup truck, carrying a rifle and a bag of ammunition. He crashed the truck not far from the school, and shot at two people when they approached the wreck.

Warning: This video contains strong language and emotional distress. Desperate for information and to see their children parents clash with police in the immediate aftermath of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and 2 adults were killed.

The Globe and Mail

Although there were 911 calls about a crash and a man with a gun, he had already reached the school parking lot by the time police responded, and was “hunkered down” behind a car, Col. McCraw said. A police cruiser drove right past him.

Col. McCraw said the gunman reached the lot at 11:31 a.m. and began shooting at the building from outside.

He entered the school at 11:33 a.m., through a door that had been left propped open by a teacher who had run inside to get something. He turned down a hallway and almost immediately began firing into two adjoining classrooms, 111 and 112. Col. McCraw said audio evidence shows he fired more than 100 rounds.

Local police officers burst into the school through that same door just minutes later, at 11:35 a.m. They were immediately fired at, Col. McCraw said, and two of them were grazed by bullets. They retreated and called for backup. The gunfire continued.

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Members of the media take photos of a map of the school.Wong Maye-E/The Associated Press

Backup began arriving at 11:51 a.m., and by 12:03 p.m. there were as many as 19 officers lined up in the school hallway outside the classrooms, which the gunman had locked. But they didn’t have the tactical gear the commander felt they needed to move in. At that same time, Col. McCraw said, a student made a whispered 911 call from room 112. She called back a few minutes later and reported that several of her classmates were dead.

At 12:15 p.m., a Border Patrol SWAT team arrived on the scene, equipped with shields. Still, the officers did not move in. At 12:16 p.m., the student called 911 again and reported that there were eight or nine students still alive in the room. Several more 911 calls came in, including one from another student, even as there were more gunshots. At 12:47 p.m., the initial student was still begging the 911 dispatcher to send police, adding she could hear officers next door.

It was 12:50 p.m. when police finally entered the classrooms using keys they had obtained from a school janitor and killed the gunman. Asked if any children were shot while police awaited backup, Col. McCraw said he couldn’t say. He said the two students who made 911 calls survived.

Col. McCraw did not answer questions about whether the 911 call information was being relayed to the commander on the scene. His voice cracked as he acknowledged the police errors.

“There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done,” he said.

Jennifer Gaitan, who lives three blocks from the school and has a daughter who attends Grade Four there, was one of the first parents to arrive that day, after she saw police converging on the building. Parents were begging officers to intervene.

One officer, she said, pushed her back with his assault rifle and then twisted her arm behind her back. The arm he twisted was broken from a car crash, she said. He freed her when her husband pushed him away.

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Victims of Robb Elementary school mass shooting, top row from left: Teacher Eva Mireles, Eliahana Cruz Torres, Makenna Lee Elrod, Jose Flores, Miranda Mathis, Maite Rodriguez, Teacher Irma Garcia, Second row: Nevaeh Bravo, Alithia Ramirez, Layla Salazar, Uziyah Garcia, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Rodriguez, Jackie Cazares. Bottom row: Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, Jailah Silguero, Rojelio Torres, Xavier Lopez, Tess Mata, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio and Ellie García.Reuters

Video of the scene that Ms. Gaitan shared with The Globe and Mail shows a chaotic melee, in which police surround and try to hold back one man who is trying to reach the school. Police eventually pull the man to the ground and hold him down. Ms. Gaitan said some officers pulled out tasers.

She said she couldn’t believe the police portrayed themselves as heroic in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “They took way too long,” she said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who had praised police earlier in the week, said they had not told him the full truth about their response.

“I was misled. I am livid about what happened,” he told reporters Friday. He added that he expects law enforcement leaders, including the Texas Rangers and the FBI, to “get to the bottom of every fact, with absolute certainty.”

On Friday, the same day as the police news conference, the National Rifle Association opened its annual meeting three hours down the road in Houston, with former president Donald Trump set to address the crowd. Thousands of protesters gathered in a park across the street from the city’s convention centre and pressed up against police barricades to admonish attendees for successfully lobbying against tighter gun control.

Kelly Walters and Timi Walters brought their three-year-old daughter to the protest, with a handmade sign that said “Am I Next?”

Ms. Walters, a 39-year-old therapist and former teacher, said her daughter had already experienced a lockdown, when there was an active shooter across the street from her church daycare. The couple’s 19-year-old son, she said, has been through 10 school lockdowns over the years.

Addressing the convention, former president Donald Trump argued that the solution to mass shootings is to ensure people can obtain more guns. “The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Mr. Ramos legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles and enormous quantities of ammunition in the days before the massacre. On Friday, police described the sheer size of his arsenal.

They found a total of 58 magazines in and around the school. There were two more at his home. In addition to his rifle, “Mr. Ramos had purchased and had a total of 1,657 total rounds of ammunition,” Col. McCraw said.

There were 142 spent cartridges from Mr. Ramos’s guns inside the school, another 22 cartridges outside the school, and 22 at the scene of his crashed truck.

Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, says police made the wrong decision.

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