Police officers with rifles instead stood and waited in a school hallway for nearly an hour while the gunman carried out the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified at a state Senate hearing on the police handling of the tragedy.
Delays in the law enforcement response have been the focus of federal, state and local investigations of the mass shooting.
McCraw told the Senate committee that Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, decided to put the lives of officers ahead of the lives of children.
The public safety chief began outlining for the committee a series of missed opportunities.
The number of people injured or killed does not include the suspect or perpetrator. These graphics show the number of victims across all mass shootings from the last five years.
Bleiberg and Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas.
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