Police officers delayed entering the Texas elementary school where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, even as on-scene supervisors became aware that some victims inside needed medical treatment, The New York Times reported.

Questions have been raised over the slow law enforcement response since the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24. It was the deadliest US school shooting in almost a decade.

Over a dozen of the 33 children and three teachers who were in the two adjoining classrooms remained alive from the time the gunman started shooting to when the police entered and killed the suspect one hour and 17 minutes later, the newspaper said, based on its review of records and video footage gathered by investigators.

Citing the records it obtained, the Times said law enforcement personnel were waiting for protective equipment to lower the risk to officers.

In the footage, school district police chief Pete Arredondo, who was leading the response to the shooting, appeared to have agonized over the time it was taking to secure protective shields for officers charge the building, the Times said.

It added that a man who investigators believe to be Arredondo could be heard on body camera footage saying, “People are going to ask why we’re taking so long.”

“We’re trying to preserve the rest of the life,” the transcript published by the Times said. 

What happened in Uvalde?

A total of 60 law enforcement officers were on the scene by the time four officers entered the classrooms, the report said.

Days after the shooting, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) publicly acknowledged that about 19 officers had waited nearly an hour in a hallway outside the classrooms before a US Border Patrol-led tactical team finally made entry.

According to the documents cited by the Times, one of the teachers died in an ambulance and three children died in nearby hospitals, raising questions about whether more victims could have been saved if they were reached sooner.

The Times said Arredondo did not respond to requests for comment.

dvv/nm (AP, Reuters)

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