Birthday Rifles & Veiled Warnings: What is Known About Texas School Shooting That Left 19 Kids Dead
07:38 GMT 25.05.2022 (Updated: 08:56 GMT 25.05.2022)
The deadly shooting in Uvalde, Texas, came less than two weeks after a, 18-year old gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and injuring three more, almost all of them Black, in what officials have described as a “racism-inspired act of domestic terrorism.”
An 18-year-old gunman went on a shooting spree at Robb Elementary School in the city of Uvalde, southern Texas, on Tuesday, with the death toll now standing at 21.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said on Wednesday that 19 students and two adults had been killed by the shooter, who was also gunned down, adding that the death toll could yet rise.
The Uvalde tragedy is now the deadliest school shooting in the country in nearly a decade, yet again raising calls for congressional action to tackle gun violence and “stand up to the gun lobby.”
The school in Uvalde had began its last week of “themed” classes before summer break, with Tuesday to be “Footloose and Fancy,” presupposing students dressing up for the occasion.
However, the 18-year-old suspected gunman, whom Texas Governor Greg Abbott identified as Salvador Ramos, had already hinted on social media of an upcoming attack, “suggested the kids should watch out,” according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, briefed by state police.
Before carrying out his attack, the suspect had shot his grandmother using two military-style rifles he legally purchased on his birthday, according to Gutierrez.
“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” added the official. It was clarified that the woman was airlifted to hospital and was being treated.
According to investigators, Ramos, who resided in Uvalde and had attended Uvalde High, posted photos of the two AR-15-style rifles to an Instagram* account linked to his name just three days before the shooting.
Suspected Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos legally bought two rifles on the day he turned 18 from a dealer near Uvalde, Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez says on CNN: https://t.co/DNcSklDJMn pic.twitter.com/tbYpGsuAA9— Tom Cleary (@tomwcleary) May 24, 2022
One of Ramos' former classmates claimed the student had stopped attending school regularly.
"He barely came to school," the friend was cited as telling CNN, adding that Ramos had recently sent him a picture of an AR-15, a backpack with rounds of ammunition and several gun magazines.
Ramos, who worked at a local Wendy's restaurant, had "kept to himself mostly" and "didn't really socialize with the other employees. ... He just worked, got paid, and came in to get his check," reported the outlet.
‘Horrific, Incomprehensible Attack’
The attack itself began about 11:30 a.m., when the suspected shooter crashed his car outside Robb Elementary School.
"The suspect did crash near a ditch nearby the school. That's where he exited his vehicle with what I believe was a rifle and that's when he attempted to enter the school where he was engaged by law enforcement. Unfortunately, he was able to enter the premises and then from there that's when he entered several classrooms and started shooting his firearm," said Sergeant Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A resident had heard the crash and called 911, with two local police officers exchanging gunfire with the shooter, according to Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He added that both officers were shot, without clarifying where on the campus that had occurred. It has since been reported that both border agents are in a stable condition in hospital.
Salvador Ramos entered the predominantly Hispanic school wearing body armour and armed with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Sergeant Erick Estrada was cited as saying by CNN. He went from classroom to classroom in the school that has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, killing at least 19 children. The death toll also included two adults, with Gov. Greg Abbott saying one of the two was a teacher.
The teenager did not have any assistance, according to officials. They are also yet to reveal the motive that prompted the teen to "horrifically, incomprehensibly" open fire, according to Greg Abbott.
Perpetrator Shot, Death Toll ‘to Grow’
As teams of Border Patrol agents were dispatched to the school, one agent working nearby rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, hiding behind a barricade, according to an unnamed law enforcement official.
The Border Patrol agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, it was added.
Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo said there were “several injuries” among people on the scene. According to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, 13 children were taken there. University Health hospital in San Antonio reported that a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl were in a critical condition, said officials.
"At this point, the investigation is leading to tell us that the suspect did act alone during this heinous crime," Pete Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said.
Tuesday's tragedy marks the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade since 26 children and adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
It comes 10 days after a deadly rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket when an 18-year old white gunman killed ten people and injured three more, almost all of them Black, in what officials branded an incident of “hate-filled domestic terrorism.”
In a White House speech shortly after the Uvalde shooting US President Joe Biden called for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation.
“As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?" he said.
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April, shootings had overtaken car crashes to become the leading cause of death for US children and teenagers in 2020.
*Instagram is banned in Russia over extremist activities