Officers in Uvalde, TX, shot and killed a gunman wearing body armor and carrying a rifle who murdered at least 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School just before noon on Tuesday, May 24. According to law enforcement officials, the shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom. Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the deaths.
The carnage in Texas comes on the heels of a recent mass shooting earlier this month in Buffalo, where ten people were murdered in a racist attack at Top’s grocery store, and it is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT.
According to officials, the shooter turned 18 on May 16 and immediately purchased his weapons after his 18th birthday. The gunman allegedly legally purchased two assault rifles at a local gun store, Democratic Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez said. According to reports from those near the school, the gunman had driven his truck into a ditch outside of the school. When bystanders attempted to aid Ramos, he shot those persons and barricaded himself inside the elementary school. Officials have not revealed a motive for the shooting, and they believe that the gunman acted alone. According to the Associated Press, the gunman shot his grandmother, 66, who is listed in grave condition at the time of this writing.
Schools in the district were locked down, and Robb Elementary school parents were being matched via DNA swabs to their children. The elementary school numbers approximately 600 and include students in second, third, and fourth grades. Hal Harrell, school superintendent, said classes were canceled for the year, and grief counselors would be available beginning Wednesday, May 25.
Harrell noted that Uvalde, a small community of 16,000 located 85 miles west of San Antonio, is in shock and mourning. “My heart was broken today. We’re a small community, and we’ll need your prayers to get us through this.”
In his address to the nation, President Joe Biden said, “I had hoped when I became president, I would not have to do this – again. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened – seeing their friends die, as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”
Biden said, “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” he said. “Time to turn this pain into action.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said during a speech at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies 20th Annual Awards Gala, “Enough is enough. As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to entrust something like this never happens again.”
According to the White House, U.S. flags will be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims at the White House, public buildings, and all military posts.
This story is ongoing and will be updated as additional information becomes available.