This article has been updated with comment from Meta, which runs Facebook, which said the school shooter made direct messages, not posts, on Facebook.
The Texas elementary school shooter messaged someone on Facebook that he was going to attack a school shortly before starting his rampage.
On Tuesday, Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old in Uvalde, Texas, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and possibly a handgun, killed his grandmother at the Uvalde home where he lived with her, then drove to Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two adults. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the shooter wrote a message on Facebook around 11 a.m. Tuesday that said "I'm going to shoot my grandmother."
True to his word, the shooter shot his grandmother. She was originally reported dead, but police said she was able to run across the street to neighbors and get medivac’ed. The shooter then messaged "I shot my grandmother" and followed it up by writing, "I'm going to shoot up an elementary school."
Ramos took his grandmother’s vehicle and drove to the school with his rifle in a backpack. He crashed the vehicle near the school and entered into the school through a back door. He then entered into a classroom that was combined with another via a door.
Eventually police were able to kill Ramos but not before a significant number of children and teachers were killed and injured. It has been reported that the bodies of the children were so devastated by the high-powered firearm that parents needed to do DNA tests to see if their children were among the dead.
The recipient of the messages has not been made public. Facebook said they “are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation.”
Police said the gunman had no prior history with the police and was a high school dropout. He purchased a semi-automatic rifle on May 17 at a local sporting goods store and then on May 18 he purchased a large amount of ammunition for the rifle. On May 20 he purchased one more semi-automatic rifle.
The Facebook page for the shooter, alongside other social media pages, has since been deleted. VICE News has not seen a copy of it.
VICE News was able to review the shooter's Instagram page, where he followed 41 people. Several of his followers posted stories about the killings, mainly condemnations of the killer and tributes to the murdered children. However, some actually posted direct messages they claimed they had with the shooter.
One of the alleged DMs posted to an Instagram story by someone who was followed by Ramos has the shooter sending a meme about bringing an AK-47 somewhere in a backpack. He then said he would use “a better gun.” “Personally I wouldn’t use a AK-47,” the direct messages show the gunman saying. The screenshot shows the shooter said he would use an AR-15.
A separate direct message posted by a different person who was followed by the gunman, showed the shooter reaching out to another woman online saying “I wanna make you famous” and telling her “just follow back on (Instagram) and I’ll make you famous by next Monday.” The woman posted that she was receiving a deluge of online hate because of the shooter followed her. VICE News attempted to reach out to both those users but did not get a reply.
VICE News did make contact with one woman who Ramos tagged in an Instagram story about his gun. Ramos told her he had “a secret” and that he’s “about to” but would not tell what he meant by either of those things.
“He asked me to be his girlfriend and stuff, as a joke, I think, I don't even know,” Anita, who did not want to share her last name for privacy reasons, told VICE News in a voice memo on Tuesday night. “And I said no…. Now people are attacking me for it, and they think I'm his girlfriend, which I am not,” Anita said, adding that some people “are saying that I should have predicted what he was going to do.”
Another person who followed him said that they never messaged directly but the shooter posted about “guns prior to the event, a month or so before.”
With files from David Gilbert.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.