A teenage gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults after storming into a Texas primary school. Here’s what we know so far.
A teenage gunman has killed at least 19 children and two adults after storming into a primary school in Uvalde, Texas, in the latest mass shooting in the United States and the deadliest US school shooting in a decade.
Here is what we know.
What happened and when?
- A teenage gunman killed at least 19 young children and two adults at Robb Elementary School – which teaches more than 500 mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students – in Texas on Tuesday.
- According to authorities, the shooting started at 11:32am (15:32 GMT). The attacker opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom, and he used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
- Texas Department of Public Safety officials said the gunman shot his grandmother before heading to the school where he abandoned his vehicle and entered with a handgun and a rifle, wearing body armour. Other officials said later that the grandmother survived and was being treated, though her condition was not known.
- The gunman barricaded himself inside the school and exchanged gunfire with officers as they entered the building, said Marsha Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. One US Border Patrol agent was wounded.
- The gunman was killed by responding officers, officials said.
Where did it happen?
- The attack took place in Uvalde – a small community of about 16,000 residents about 129km (80 miles) west of San Antonio and about 113km (70 miles) from the Mexican border.
- Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, said the 600 children who attended the primary school were aged from five or six to about 12 years old.
Who was the gunman?
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott named the suspect as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old resident and a US citizen. “He shot and killed, horrifically and incomprehensibly,” Abbott said.
- Officials did not immediately reveal a motive.
- A manager at a Wendy’s restaurant told the New York Times that Ramos worked there for a year but quit about a month ago.
- He “went out of the way to keep [to] himself,” Adrian Mendez of Wendy’s told the New York Times. “No one really knew him.”
- Ramos bought his weapon after his 18th birthday, which was on May 16, according to a report by the Washington Post.
What do we know about the victims?
By nightfall, some names of the first victims started to emerge.
- Manny Renfro told The Associated Press that his grandson, eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia, was killed. “The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Renfro said. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”
- Fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44, was also killed and she was remembered as a loving mother and wife. “She was adventurous. I would definitely say those wonderful things about her. She is definitely going to be very missed,” 34-year-old relative Amber Ybarra, of San Antonio, told AP.
- Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, mourned the death of her cousin, Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been eagerly awaiting a summer of swimming. “He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” she told AP.
- Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was also identified as one of the victims. “Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby,” Angel Garza told ABC News in a statement. “My little love is now flying high with the angels above. Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me.”
What is the latest on the ground?
- Hours after the shooting, police had cordoned off the school with yellow tape. Police cruisers and emergency vehicles were stationed around the perimeter of the school grounds. Uniformed personnel stood in small clusters, some in camouflage carrying semi-automatic weapons.
What have the reactions been?
- Speaking from the White House hours later, a visibly shaken President Joe Biden urged people in the US to stand up to the country’s politically powerful gun lobby, which he blamed for blocking the enactment of tougher firearms safety laws. Biden ordered flags flown at half-staff daily until sunset on Saturday in observance of the shooting.
As a nation we must ask: When in God’s name will we stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name will we do what needs to be done?
I’m sick and tired of it. We have to act.
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 25, 2022
- Speaking Tuesday night at an event, Vice President Kamala Harris called for policy changes to help prevent such tragedies. “I would normally say in a moment like this – we would all say, naturally, that our hearts break. But our hearts keep getting broken,” Harris said. “Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break – and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families. And yet it keeps happening.”
Enough is enough. As a nation, we must have the courage to take action and prevent this from ever happening again. It is long past time for our country to stand up to the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 25, 2022
- “My heart is broken,” school district superintendent Hal Harrell told reporters late in the day, his voice quaking with emotion. “We’re a small community and we need your prayers to get us through this.”
- Governor Abbott said “Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime”.
Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde.
Cecilia & I mourn this horrific loss & urge all Texans to come together.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 24, 2022
- Ted Cruz, a pro-gun rights Republican senator from Texas, tweeted that he and his wife were “lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde”.
Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde.
We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding.
Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 24, 2022
- In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sadness over the shooting and sent his condolences to the “parents, families, friends, classmates, and coworkers whose lives have forever changed”.
My heart breaks for everyone affected by the horrific shooting in Texas today. I’m thinking of the parents, the families, the friends, the classmates, and the coworkers whose lives have been forever changed – Canadians are mourning with you, and are here for you.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 24, 2022
- Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, made an impassioned appeal for concrete action to prevent further gun violence. “This isn’t inevitable, these kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day,” Murphy said on the Senate floor in Washington.
Imagine being 9 years old, and watching your friend get shot through the nose and collapse dead in front of you.
The headline, for good reason, is the number of kids dead. But a huge part of the story, in shooting after shooting, is the lifetime of trauma for the survivors. https://t.co/4C4pVdX37E
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 25, 2022
- UN chief Antonio Guterres also expressed his sadness over the killings.
I’m deeply saddened by the heinous mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas. It is particularly heart-wrenching that most of the victims are children.
My heart goes out to the families & loved ones of the victims and to the community of Uvalde.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 25, 2022
- Pope Francis said he was “heartbroken” by the shooting and called for greater controls on weapons.
- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr refused to talk about basketball at a pre-game news conference and instead called for stricter gun controls after the shooting.
Steve Kerr on today’s tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas. pic.twitter.com/lsJ8RzPcmC
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 24, 2022
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough. After years of nothing else, we are becoming a nation of anguished screams. We simply need legislators willing to stop the scourge of gun violence in America that is murdering our children.”
Thoughts and prayers are not enough.
After years of nothing else, we are becoming a nation of anguished screams.
We simply need legislators willing to stop the scourge of gun violence in America that is murdering our children.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 24, 2022
- Former President of the US Bill Clinton also expressed his condolences while he called authorities to take action.
My statement on the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. pic.twitter.com/p3xhzDh8hf
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) May 25, 2022
Former President Barack Obama said, “Michelle and I grieve with the families in Uvalde, who are experiencing pain no one should have to bear.”
Across the country, parents are putting their children to bed, reading stories, singing lullabies—and in the back of their minds, they’re worried about what might happen tomorrow after they drop their kids off at school, or take them to a grocery store or any other public space.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 25, 2022
“Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents’ hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible,” Senator Mitt Romney tweeted.
Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents’ hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible. I offer prayer and condolence but know that it is grossly inadequate. We must find answers.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 24, 2022
While Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Congress may not be able to end this problem, but we must at least pass commonsense gun reforms to finally protect the public.”
The horrific rampage in TX once again makes clear that there are some very sick people in this country with guns in their hands who should not have them. Congress may not be able to end this problem, but we must at least pass commonsense gun reforms to finally protect the public.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 24, 2022