UVALDE, Texas — Three days after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde elementary school, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that the incident commander in charge of the initial response made the 'wrong decision' not to breach the classroom sooner.
Col. Steven McCraw made the comments during a press conference where he gave an updated timeline of what occurred.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision," McCraw said. "It was a wrong decision. There's no excuse for that. But again, I wasn't there, but I'm just telling you from what we know. We believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can. When there's an active shooter, the rules change."
The on-site commander initially believed the gunman was barricaded in a classroom during Tuesday's attack and that the children were not at risk, McCraw said.
Authorities say children repeatedly called 911 from inside Robb Elementary School, including a girl who told the dispatcher “Please send the police now."
Nearly 20 officers were in a hallway outside the classrooms for more than 45 minutes before Border Patrol agents used a master key to open a door and confront a gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, McCraw said.
McCraw became emotional during a flurry of questions from reporters as he outlined what investigators said happened before and during the deadly rampage inside Robb Elementary School.
"Forget about me or the officers and stuff like that," McCraw said. "We take an oath to uphold the law and protect people and anytime something tragic like this, we want to know why it happened, and if we can do better next time. There's a bottom line and call it like it is. It is tragic."
Ramos was killed at about 12:58 p.m. Tuesday according to law enforcement radio chatter, ending a reign of terror that began with the shooting of his grandmother in her home.
What follows is a timeline of events that began as Ramos arrived outside of the school.
11:27 a.m. - Exterior door at Robb Elementary School propped open by teacher
11:28 a.m. - Ramos crashes into a ditch near the school. A teacher runs to a classroom to retrieve their phone. The exterior door remains propped open. Two people from a nearby funeral home approach Ramos' crashed truck to try and help, but they see him with a gun and backpack. The two people run back to the funeral home as Ramos began shooting at them. They were not hit.
11:30 a.m. - The first 911 call is received reporting a crash and a man with a gun.
11:31 a.m. - Gunman starts shooting at Robb Elementary School while police officers arrive at the funeral home. A Uvalde CISD patrol officer arrived at the school and drove past the shooter, who was hiding behind a car.
11:32 a.m. - Multiple shots fired at school
11:33 a.m. - Gunman enters school through the propped open door and enters either room 111 or 112 and starts shooting. He fired more than 100 rounds at that time.
11:35 a.m. - Three Uvalde Police officers enter the same door the gunman entered. They were later followed by three more officers and a sheriff's deputy. Two of the first officers through the door received grazing bullet wounds from bullets fired through the closed door.
11:37 a.m. - More gunfire
11:38 a.m. - More gunfire
11:40 a.m. - More gunfire
11:44 a.m. - More gunfire
11:51 a.m. - Police sergeant and U.S. Border Patrol agents start to arrive.
12:03 p.m. - Agents continue to arrive. As many as 19 law enforcement officers are now in the school hallway.
12:15 p.m. - Border Patrol Tactical Units (BORTAC) arrive along with tactical shields
12:21 p.m. - Gunman fires again and is believed to be at the door. Law enforcement moved down the hallway.
12:50 p.m. - Law enforcement officers breached the door using keys they were able to get from a janitor because both rooms 111 and 112 were locked.
Officers kill the gunman.