The Texas gunman who murdered 19 children and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde posted an online message warning that he was going to shoot up an elementary school minutes before he attacked, Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday, as more harrowing details about Tuesday’s rampage emerged. At least 17 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including “multiple children” who survived the gunfire in their classroom.
The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, also sent a message on Tuesday saying he was going to shoot his grandmother and another one confirming he had done so, Abbott said at a news conference. Ramos’ grandmother, whom the suspect shot in the face shortly before attacking the school, survived and called police.
Ramos gave no warning except the online posts.
The posts were made on Facebook, the governor said, but spokespeople for Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms , said they were private one-to-one messages discovered after the shooting. The company declined to say who received the messages or which of Meta’s platforms, such as Messenger or Instagram, was used to send them.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Uvalde, Texas, in the coming days to console families of the young shooting victims killed at an elementary school.
How the attack unfolded
After shooting his grandmother, he fled the home they shared and crashed his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 130 km west of San Antonio. A school police officer approached him outside the building, according to officials, but no gunfire was exchanged. Authorities offered few additional details of that encounter, which is likely to become a focus of investigations, except that the suspect dropped a bag full of ammunition on the ground and ran toward the school when he saw the officer.
FOX 11 has obtained the photo of the suspected Texas school shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. MORE: https://t.co/D1s6He8QGK pic.twitter.com/fISExs24MX
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) May 25, 2022
Ramos then entered the school through a back door carrying an AR-15-style rifle and made his way down two hallways to a fourth-grade classroom where he shot all of the people who were killed. Authorities said he had legally purchased two rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition days before the shooting.
Meanwhile, police surrounded the building, breaking windows to help children and staff escape. US Border Patrol agents also responded and entered the building to confront the shooter, with one agent wounded “in the crossfire,” the Department of Homeland Security said on Twitter.
Eventually, Ramos, a high school dropout with no known criminal record or history of mental illness, was shot and killed by law enforcement.
The two staff members killed were identified as Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, fourth-grade teachers trapped in the classroom with their students when the shooting began.
While the names of those killed and wounded have not been released officially, several parents and family members took to social media to pay tribute to their loved ones.
“My baby you didn’t deserve this,” Veronica Luevanos, the mother of fourth-grader Jailah Silguero, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. The post also mourned the girl’s classmates, teachers and cousin Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, who also were killed in the shooting.
GoFundMe pages have been set up for the community and for some of the families, aiming to raise funds to pay for funerals.
Seeking money for the burial of fourth-grader Xavier Lopez, relatives wrote: “We as family know he is now with his Grandpa Benny in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Ruckus at press conference
In a sign of the charged political atmosphere, Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate challenging Republican Governor Abbott in a November election, interrupted the news conference to confront Abbott over the state’s permissive gun laws, shouting “You are doing nothing!”
“This is on you until you choose to do something”: Beto O’Rourke confronts Gov. Abbott at briefing on Texas elementary school shooting. https://t.co/RdYLvfum24 pic.twitter.com/bqbQXTPm6O
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 25, 2022
Several officials gathered on stage around the governor yelled at O’Rourke. “You’re a sick son of a bitch who would come to a deal like this to make a political issue,” one of them said, though it was not clear who.
O’Rourke was escorted out of the building and spoke to reporters outside. He said it was “insane” that an 18-year-old was legally permitted to acquire a semi-automatic rifle and vowed to pursue gun restrictions.
“We can get that done if we had a governor that cared more about the people of Texas than he does this own political career or his fealty to the NRA,” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association, a gun-rights advocacy organisation.
Abbott said stringent gun laws do not prevent violence, citing states such as New York. He said policymakers should instead focus on mental health treatment and prevention.
Biden to visit Texas ‘in coming days’
Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden will visit the grieving families in the coming days, but did not share details.
“Jill and I will be travelling to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families to let them know we have a sense, just a sense of their pain, and, hopefully, bring some little comfort to a community in shock and grief and trauma,” Biden said.
A little more than a week ago, he visited Buffalo, New York, to console the families of 10 people killed at a supermarket there — nearly all of them Black — by an avowed white supremacist. “I’m sick and tired of it,” Biden said on Wednesday.
(Compiled from Reuters and Associated Press reports)