Texas officials: 19 kids, 2 adults killed in school shooting; gunman dead

Police and others responding to the attack broke windows to help students and teachers escape, said Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety


We are grateful for the heroism of police, fire and EMS personnel who stopped the attack and cared for the injured inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We will continue to update our coverage as details emerge. Learn more about this response and supporting members' mental health in times of crisis with this incident analysis:

UPDATE: May 25, 10:40 a.m. CT

By Acacia Coronado and Jim Vertuno
Associated Press

UVALDE, Texas — The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and "began shooting anyone that was in his way," authorities said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S.

Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed the gunman, who used an AR-style rifle. Police and others responding to Tuesday's attack also went around breaking windows at the school to enable students and teachers to escape, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said on NBC's "Today" show.

Olivarez told CNN that all of the victims were in the same fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary.

The killer "barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom," he said. "It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter."

A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School.
A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School. (William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News/Associated Press)

Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a nearby classroom, said students were watching a movie when a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, their teacher saw the armed assailant walk past the door.

"Oh, my God, he has a gun!" the teacher shouted twice, according to Silva. "The teacher didn't even have time to lock the door," he said.

Investigators did not immediately disclose a motive but identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.

Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, suggesting that "kids should watch out," according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police.

Ramos legally brought two AR-style rifles just days before the attack, soon after his 18th birthday, state senators briefed by law enforcement said.

One of the guns was purchased at a federally licensed dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to Sen. John Whitmire. Ramos bought 375 rounds of ammunition the next day, then purchased the second rifle on May 20.

On that day, an Instagram account appearing to belong to the gunman shared a photo of two AR-style rifles.

Officers found one of the rifles in Ramos' truck and the other in the school, according to the briefing. Ramos was wearing a tactical vest, but it had no hardened body-armor plates inside, lawmakers were told. He also dropped a backpack containing several magazines full of ammunition near the school entrance.

The attack in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Families in Uvalde waited hours for word on their children. At the town civic center where some gathered Tuesday night, the silence was broken repeatedly by screams and wails. "No! Please, no!" one man yelled as he embraced another man. On Wednesday morning, volunteers were seen arriving with Bibles and therapy dogs.

The attack was the latest in a seemingly unending string of mass killings at churches, schools, stores and other sites in the United States. Just 10 days earlier, 10 Black people were shot to death in a racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.

In a somber address to the nation hours after the bloodshed in Uvalde, President Joe Biden pleaded for new gun restrictions.

"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?" he asked. "Why are we willing to live with this carnage?"
But the prospects for any reform of the nation's gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican resistance in Congress.

Before the attack, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother, then fled the scene, crashing his truck near the school and entering the building, authorities said. Inside the barricaded classroom, he "just began shooting anyone that was in his way," Olivarez said.

A tactical team forced its way into the classroom and was met with gunfire from Ramos but shot and killed him, according to Olivarez.

Earlier, a law enforcement official said one Border Patrol agent who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.

The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement official said.
Jason Owens, a top regional official with the Border Patrol, said some area agents have children at Robb Elementary.

"It hit home for everybody," he said.

Staff members in scrubs and devastated victims' relatives could be seen weeping as they left Uvalde Memorial Hospital, which many of the children were taken. Three children and an adult were being treated at a San Antonio hospital, where two of them — a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl — were reported in serious condition.

Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, is a single-story brick structure in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The attack came as the school was counting down to the last days of the school year with a series of themed days. Tuesday was to be "Footloose and Fancy," with students wearing nice outfits.

Law enforcement officers investigating the bloodshed began serving search warrants and gathering telephone and other records. They also sought to contact Ramos' relatives and trace the guns.

Condolences poured in from leaders around the world. Pope Francis pleaded that it was time say "'enough' to the indiscriminate trade of weapons!" Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his nation also knows "the pain of losing innocent young lives."

Texas, which has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation, has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman shot more than two dozen people to death during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack targeting Hispanics.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Gov. Greg. Abbott and both of Texas' U.S. senators, all of them Republicans, were among the scheduled speakers at a forum Friday.


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This story was first published on May 24, 2022. It was corrected to reflect that state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said the gunman shot his grandmother before going to the school; he did not say the gunman killed his grandmother. It was also updated to correct the spelling of the name of the 10-year-old great-granddaughter.
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Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills in Uvalde, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin, Juan Lozano in Houston, Gene Johnson in Seattle and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

 

UPDATE: MAY 24, 7:32 P.M. PT

By Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills
Associated Press

UVALDE, Texas — An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.

The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.

The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.

“My heart is broken today,” said Hal Harrell, the school district superintendent, announcing that all school activities were canceled until further notice. “We’re a small community, and we’re going to need your prayers to get through this.”

Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.
Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills/Associated Press)

The attack also came just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that added to a yearslong series of mass killings at churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed as dim as in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.

President Joe Biden appeared ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.

“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?” Biden asked. “Why are are willing to live with this carnage?"

Many of the injured were rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where staff members in scrubs and devastated victims' relatives could be seen weeping as they walked out of the complex.

The gunman, who was wearing body armor, crashed his car outside the school before going inside, Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN.

He killed his grandmother before heading to the school with two military-style rifles he had purchased on his birthday, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police.

“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said.

Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but the governor identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.

Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, Gutierrez said, noting that “he suggested the kids should watch out.”

A Border Patrol agent who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.

The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.

The school district's police chief, Pete Arredondo, said that the attacker acted alone.

It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.

Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves students in the second, third and fourth grade. He did not provide ages of the children who were shot. This was the school's last week of classes before summer break.

Heavily armed law enforcement officers swarmed to the school, with officers in tactical vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was briefed on the shooting on Air Force One as he returned from a five-day trip to Asia.

Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The tragedy in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally in the state, which has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has waxed and waned. Efforts by lawmakers to change U.S. gun policies in any significant way have consistently faced roadblocks from Republicans and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.

A year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the nation’s background check system. But as the measure was close to being brought to the Senate floor for a vote, it became clear it would not get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called Congress' failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.

Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.

___

UPDATE: May 24, 5 p.m. PT

By Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills
Associated Press

UVALDE, Texas — An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 18 children, officials said, and the gunman was dead.

The death toll also included three adults, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he was briefed by state police on the fatalities. But it was not immediately clear whether that number included the assailant.

It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunmen killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago. And it came just 10 days after a gunman in body armor killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racist attack.

Federal law enforcement officials said the death toll was expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release investigative details.

The gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Gov. Greg Abbott said. Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but the governor identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the heavily Latino community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.

A Border Patrol agent who was nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.

The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.

Abbott said the shooter was likely killed by police officers but that the events were still being investigated. The school district's police chief, Pete Arredondo, said that the attacker acted alone.

The massacre of young children was another gruesome moment for a country scarred by an almost ceaseless string of mass killings at churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform in the nation's gun regulations seemed at least as dim as in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.

The gunman in Uvalde "shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students, and killed a teacher,” the governor said, adding that two officers were also wounded but were expected to survive.

“Pray for the lost, their families, and Uvalde,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a tweet.

It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.

Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves students in the second, third and fourth grade. He did not provide ages of the children who were shot. This was the school's last week of classes before summer break.

A heavy police presence surrounded the school Tuesday afternoon, with officers in heavy vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting on Air Force One as he returned from a five-day trip to Asia. Biden was scheduled to deliver remarks Tuesday evening at the White House.

Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uvalde County. The town is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The tragedy in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally of mass shootings in the state that have been among the deadliest in the U.S. over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has waxed and waned. Efforts by lawmakers to change U.S. gun policies in any significant way have consistently faced roadblocks from Republicans and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.

A year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the nation’s background check system. But as the measure was close to being brought to the Senate floor for a vote, it became clear it would not get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called Congress' failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.

Original article: May 24, 1:41 p.m. PT 

By Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills
Associated Press

UVALDE, Texas — Two people were dead and more than a dozen children hospitalized as multiple medical centers cared for people injured in a shooting at a Texas elementary school, hospital officials said Tuesday. Police have said the suspected shooter is in custody.

Thirteen children were taken by ambulance or bus to Uvalde Memorial Hospital after an active shooter was reported at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio, officials with the hospital said. The health of the children is unclear as is whether the dead are included in that count.

Another hospital, University Hospital in San Antonio, said a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.

The nature and severity of the people's injuries weren't immediately known, but the shooter was in custody shortly after 1 p.m, the Uvalde Police Department said.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District had said an active shooter was reported at Robb Elementary School, which has an enrollment of just under 600 students. Earlier, the district had said that all schools in the district were locked down because of gunshots in the area.

A Uvalde Police Department dispatcher said the scene was still active and that no other information was immediately available. School and city officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The district said that the city's civic center was being used as a reunification center.

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