After rushing into a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, a juvenile shooter killed at least 19 children and two teachers, the latest gun-fueled mass homicide in the United States and the country’s bloodiest school shooting in almost a decade.
Authorities say the mayhem began when the 18-year-old suspect, Salvador Ramos, shot his own grandmother, who survived.
He drove away from the scene and crashed near the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of San Antonio. There, he went on a deadly rampage that ended when he was shot and killed by police.
The reason for this was not immediately apparent.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sergeant Erick Estrada, law enforcement authorities spotted the shooter emerge from the smashed vehicle with a weapon and “engaged” the suspect, who nevertheless managed to charge into the building and begin fire.
Hours later, a clearly disturbed President Joe Biden spoke from the White House, urging Americans to stand up to the politically strong gun lobby, which he blamed for stalling the passage of tighter gun safety legislation.
In honor of the tragedy, Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday.
“As a country, we must ask ourselves, ‘When in God’s name will we stand up to the gun lobby?'” On national television, Biden suggested that the United States reinstate a ban on assault-style weapons and other “common-sense gun restrictions.”
Mass shootings in the United States have sparked public outrage and requests for stricter background checks on gun purchases and other weapons prohibitions that are prevalent in other countries, but such proposals have consistently failed due to Republican opposition.
The suspect in Tuesday’s killings acted alone, according to authorities. Governor Greg Abbott said the gunman was killed by police who approached him at the school, and that two policemen were hit by gunfire, though their injuries were not serious, according to the governor.
Texas public safety authorities announced on Tuesday night that 19 students and two instructors had perished, following contradicting early reports.
According to U.S. Census statistics, the hamlet, which is located in the state’s Hill Country area, has around 16,000 people, virtually all of whom are Hispanic or Latino.
According to Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department, the school’s student population comprises of students in the second, third, and fourth grades. Pupils in those grades were most likely between 7 and 10.
“My heart is torn,” school district superintendent Hal Harrell said late in the day to reporters, his voice trembling with sorrow. “We’re a tiny town, so your prayers will help us get through this.”
Around 11:30 p.m., a group of roughly 40 family members was brought out of the Willie de Leon Civic Center. As police directed individuals to their cars, other people broke down in the parking lot, weeping and holding to one another.
Outside the civic center, P.J. Talavera, who owns a martial arts school in town, claimed his wife’s niece was among the youngsters slain.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Talavera stated the community was in a condition of “managed pandemonium,” as false stories of more gunmen targeting various schools circulated.
“It’s bizarre. It’s incredible. Inside, there is a hollow nothingness”Talavera said.
Ten people were killed in a mass shooting 10 days earlier in Buffalo, New York, in a primarily Black area. Authorities have accused an 18-year-old man with traveling hundreds of miles to Buffalo and shooting at a grocery shop with an assault-style weapon.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety officer Chris Olivarez, the suspect shot his grandmother before heading to school on Tuesday, a development Abbott noted earlier in the day.
The governor stated, “I have no more information concerning the relationship between the two shootings.”
On Twitter, University Hospital in San Antonio stated it had received two patients from the Uvalde incident, a 66-year-old lady and a 10-year-old child, both in serious condition.
15 Robb Elementary kids were treated in the emergency department at Uvalde Memorial Hospital, with two being sent to San Antonio for additional treatment and a third patient transfer pending. It was unclear whether all of the students made it out alive.
A 45-year-old victim was also admitted to Uvalde Memorial Hospital after being grazed by a bullet, according to the hospital.
Yellow tape had been placed around the school hours after the shooting. Around the perimeter of the school grounds, police cruisers and emergency vehicles were strewn about. Uniformed troops stood in small groups, some dressed in camouflage and armed with semi-automatic rifles.
The shooting was the latest in a string of horrific school shootings that have revived a bitter debate between proponents of stricter gun laws and opponents of any action that may jeopardize Americans’ constitutional right to carry weapons.
The massacre on Tuesday was the bloodiest at a US school since a shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012, killing 26 people, including 20 children. In 2018, a former student at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School murdered 17 students and staff members.
According to a University of Michigan research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month, firearms become the greatest cause of mortality for children and adolescents in the United States starting in 2020, overtaking motor vehicle accidents.
The horrors of the day were echoed on Robb Elementary School’s Facebook page, where posts this week showed typical student activities such as a zoo field trip and a save-the-date reminder for a gifted-and-talented showcase.
However, at 11:43 a.m. on Tuesday, a notice was posted: “Please be advised that Robb Elementary is now on lockdown due to gunfire in the neighborhood. The children and employees in the facility are safe.” A subsequent post was more specific: “At Robb Elementary, there is an active shooter. On-site law enforcement is present.” Finally, a notice was placed in the little city’s municipal center, informing parents that they may meet their children there.