As many as 13 troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety were outside the classroom where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas school last month, roughly six people fewer than previously described but enough to have breached the door, a local official said.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Robb Elementary where the May 24 shooting took place, shared that new figure with the San Antonio Express-News after he said he spoke with the director of the state’s Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw.
“He told me there was enough people and equipment to breach the door,” Gutierrez told the local news outlet.
Jorge Vasquez, a spokesperson for Gutierrez’s office, confirmed the senator’s conversation with McCraw to HuffPost on Tuesday. McCraw described the on-scene officers to Gutierrez as having been armed with ballistic shields. He did not specify exactly when the officers were in the hallway during the violence, Vasquez said.
McCraw had previously said that 19 officers stood outside the classroom door as the shooting unfolded, raising questions about officials’ failure to immediately take out the gunman.
Travis Considine, who serves as assistant chief for the DPS’ Media and Communications Office, called Gutierrez’s comments to the Express News “absolutely false” in a post on Twitter Tuesday morning. He did not expand on this assessment in his tweet and the DPS did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment Tuesday.
McCraw had previously said that a commanding officer ordered the officers to stand by during the violence because he believed that it was a barricaded subject inside the school and not an active shooter.
“With the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision, there was no excuse for that,” McCraw told reporters a few days after the attack.
McCraw previously described seven local officers as initially following the 18-year-old gunman into the school just minutes after he entered the building. The gunman opened fire at those officers, wounding two of them. Roughly 20 minutes later, additional officers entered the school and waited in a hallway near the classroom, he said.
More than an hour after the shooting began, a team of federal agents entered the classroom and fatally shot the gunman, authorities have said.