The chief of police in Uvalde, Texas, has defended the force's response to a shooting in Robb Elementary School in which 21 people were killed last month. The cops have been facing the flak for taking 77 minutes to enter the classrooms when a teen shooter was raining bullets on the students and staff of the school.
In an interview with Texas Tribune, Uvalde school district police chief Pete Arredondo pointed to hard-to-find key to one of the locked classrooms as the ultimate reason why the police waited for so long to enter the school.
Mr Arredondo was in charge during the May 24 mass shooting and has been criticised by the parents of students, who believe lives might have been saved if police had acted quicker and gotten to the injured faster.
The police chief said he spent more than an hour in the hallway trying dozens of keys, which had a steel frame and was locked from inside.
"Each time I tried a key I was just praying," Mr Arredondo said in the interview, according to New York Post. Officers were finally able to unlock the door and shot the gunman 77 minutes after the massacre began.
"Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children," he further said. "We responded to the information that we had and had to adjust to whatever we faced."
The incident has been claimed as the bloodiest school shooting in Texas history.