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Flowers and candles are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Jae C. Hong
Robb Elementary

Texas school shooting: Gunman shared his plan on Facebook before carrying out attack

Robb Elementary in Uvalde County, Texas teaches children between the ages of seven and ten.

LAST UPDATE | 25 May 2022

THE GUNMAN WHO shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in south Texas posted his plan on Facebook 15 minutes before carrying out the attack, the local Governor confirmed this evening.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told a press conference that the gunman had shot his grandmother in the face before travelling to the school, adding that the attack was carried out with an AR-15 assault rifle.

“The first post was to the point of, he said ‘I’m going to shoot my grandmother,’” Abbott said.

“The second post was ‘I shot my grandmother.’ The third post, maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at the school was ‘I’m going to shoot an elementary school.’”

Facebook rapidly released a statement after Abbott’s comments, saying the posts “were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred.”

“We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation,” said Andy Stone, spokesman for Facebook’s parent company Meta.

Abbott also gave basic details of Tuesday’s attack.

“The first thing that happened was that the gunman shot his grandmother in the face,” he said.

“She then contacted police. The gunman fled and, as he was fleeing, had an (vehicle) accident just outside of the elementary school and he ran into the school.

“Officers… engaged the gunman at that time. The gunman then entered a back door and went down two short hallways, and then into a classroom on the left-hand side.”

The shooting, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, has been met with statements of shock from leaders around the world and sparked a fresh debate domestically on US gun violence.

President Joe Biden gave an impassioned plea for change last night, saying: “When, in God’s name, are we going to stand up to the gun lobby”. 

“It’s time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it’s time to act.”

During Abbott’s press conference, a rival Democrat who sought the nomination for President in 2020, Beto O’Rourke, interrupted the briefing and criticized Abbott for his stance on gun control.

texas-school-shooting Democrat Beto O'Rourke interrupts Texas Governor Greg Abbott's press conference this evening Dario Lopez-Mills Dario Lopez-Mills

Addressing the governor, O’Rourke charged: “You are doing nothing, you are offering us nothing.”

“You said this was not predictable, this is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything,” he said, adding: “This is on you.”

Amid the disruption, a voice from the podium with Abbott could be heard shouting “Sir, you are out of line” and referring to O’Rourke with an expletive.

Gunman named

The suspect was named as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old local resident and a US citizen.

“He shot and killed, horrifically and incomprehensibly,” Abbott said.

Details have emerged about Ramos, with Texas State senator John Whitmore telling CNN that he legally purchased two assault rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition just days after turning 18.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials told US media earlier today that the gunman headed to Robb Elementary School shortly before 11.30am local time where he abandoned his vehicle and entered with a handgun and a rifle, wearing body armour.

Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez, the spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety told CBS News that police and State Troopers responding to the incident were met with gunfire from the shooter.

“We had local police officers from the Uvalde Police Department, school police officers as well as state troopers who were responding on scene first, they were the primary officers on scene,” said Olivarez.

“They heard the gunfire, they saw the shooter. At that point, they were met with gunfire by the shooter, several police officers were shot.

“At that point, the gunman was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself and at that point just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom having no regard for human life.”

Olivarez says that officers are currently trying to determine whether or not the attack on the school was premeditated and are working to establish a motive.

Over a dozen children wounded

Fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles was shot and killed while trying to protect her students, her aunt Lydia Martinez Delgado told the New York Times.

“I’m furious that these shootings continue, these children are innocent, rifles should not be easily available to all,” she said in a separate statement to US media.

featureimage People comfort each other outside the Civic Center in Uvalde. PA PA

More than a dozen children were also wounded in the attack at the school, which teaches more than 500 students aged around seven to 10 years old, mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital said on Facebook it had received 13 children while University Health hospital in San Antonio said on Twitter it had received a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, both in critical condition, and two other girls aged nine and 10.

At least one Border Patrol agent responding to the incident was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the shooter, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa tweeted.

It was the deadliest such incident since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six staff were killed.

Seven of the students killed have been named as Uziyah Garcia, Xavier Javier Lopez, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres and Ellie Lugo, according to Sky News.

All were aged 9 or 10.

Lisa Garza said her cousin Xavier “was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today”.

“He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom.”

skynews-texas-school-shooting_5783204 Shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza. Sky News Sky News

‘Happens nowhere else’ 

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.”

But Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shooting took place, made an impassioned appeal for concrete action to prevent further 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.

“I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues: Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely.”

In a statement on Twitter this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin gave his sympathies to the families of those killed in Uvalde, calling the attack “an appalling and shocking tragedy”.

US Ambassador to Ireland, Clare Cronin said that these “senseless” mass shootings should not happen while calling for action to be taken to stop future killings.

“States with strict gun laws have lower gun ownership rates and significantly lower gun death rates. As a country, we must do more. Action must be taken now to prevent this from happening again,” said Cronin in a statement.

Pope Francis also spoke out against gun violence after his weekly general audience at the Vatican today, saying: “I am left heartbroken by the massacre in the elementary school in Texas. I pray for the children, for the adults killed and for their families”.

“It is time to say enough to indiscriminate arms trafficking. Let us all commit to ensuring such tragedies can no longer take place,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron said France shared “the shock and grief of the American people, and the rage of those who are fighting to end the violence.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “We have to stop this daily horror in the US.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his thoughts were with “the injured and the bereaved of the victims of this inconceivable massacre for which hardly any words can be found.”

The deadly assault in Texas follows a series of mass shootings in the United States this month.

On 14 May, an 18-year-old self-declared white supremacist shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York grocery store.

The following day, a man blocked the door of a church in California and opened fire on its Taiwanese-American congregation, killing one person and wounding five.

Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress, leaving states and local councils to strengthen — or weaken — their own restrictions.

The National Rifle Association has been instrumental in fighting against stricter US gun laws.

The United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35% on 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its latest data.

With additional reporting from Jamie Mc Carron, Tadgh McNally and Associated Press 

© AFP 2022

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