Uvalde Gunman’s Warning Signs Were So Obvious People Called Him ‘School Shooter’

There were so many red flags that friends would often mock him for displaying the behavior of a “school shooter,” according to a new report.

The shooter in the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas. in May showed so many warning signs to the people in his life in the year leading up to the shooting that friends would often mock him for displaying the behavior of a “school shooter,” according to an interim report by the Texas legislative committee investigating the shooting

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The 18-year-old gunman expressed violent thoughts towards women, posted a video of himself carrying around a plastic bag with a dead cat in it, constantly talked about school shootings and guns, and repeatedly made references to “something big” coming in his life, the report, released Sunday, said.

The report is an attempt to flesh out the background of an apparently deeply troubled young person who went on to commit one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, killing 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School before he was killed by police. And the report indicates that the clues were all there that he would one day act out violently. 

The interim report explores the shooter’s relationship with his family, including his mother, with whom he apparently had a falling out earlier this year. An ex-girlfriend told the committee that she believed the shooter had been sexually assaulted early in life by one of his mother’s boyfriends. After he left his mother’s house, he went to live with his grandmother, who was “​​well-known and well-regarded in the Uvalde community.” (He shot his grandmother in the face on the day of the shooting, telling a friend about it afterward in a text message; she’s since been released from the hospital.)

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The shooter was characterized as academically “at-risk” early in life, and was mocked for a speech impediment. The report suggests that someone requested therapy and the shooter himself searched for dyslexia on the internet, but “ultimately, [he] received no special education services.”

An ex-girlfriend described him as “lonely and depressed,” and said his former friends teased him as a “school shooter.” The shooter eventually became more and more isolated, with few friends left in Uvalde—family said he’d been attacked by former friends in early 2022.

He retreated into social media and the online gaming community, including on the livestreaming platform Yubo, where he once shared a video of himself holding a plastic bag with a dead cat and spitting on it. On the platform, he became known as “Yubo’s school shooter,” and was similarly referred to in another group chat as “the school shooter” after he posted a photo of himself wearing a tactical plate carrier and holding a BB gun. In an Instagram message in March, someone in a group chat told the shooter that “people at school talk [expletive] about you and call you school shooter.”

The shooter also repeatedly displayed violent behavior towards women and girls. In online gaming, the report says, the shooter “would terrorize” women who beat him “with graphic descriptions of violence and rape.” After his romantic relationship ended, he began “harassing” his ex-girlfriend and her friends. And he was fired from a job at the chain Whataburger after only a month, following an incident where he threatened a female coworker.

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The shooter had himself attended Robb Elementary School, and family suggested in the report that he had a particularly hard time in fourth grade, when he was allegedly bullied by other students. The shooting itself took place in the shooter’s fourth grade classroom. 

In 2018, the shooter was prolifically absent from school, with more than 100 absences per year, according to the report. But he had no criminal record, and his only school disciplinary record was a three-day suspension for a fight in 2018. When he was 17 and still in 9th grade, the school “involuntarily withdrew” him, citing “poor academic performance and lack of attendance,” according to the report. 

When he was still under the age of 18, the shooter asked two people to buy guns for him, which they refused to do. But when he turned 18, he purchased two AR-15s and thousands of rounds of ammunition from local and online retailers; the local gun store owner said he was an “average customer” with “no red flags,” though customers reported that the shooter “appeared odd and looked like one of those school shooters.” His uncle drove him to the gun store multiple times and allowed the shooter to store one of the rifles at his house, after his grandmother told him he could not keep the weapon in her home. 

According to the report, no one ever reported the shooter’s behavior to law enforcement, and social media sites—including TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Yubo—never took any action against him, if any report was ever made.

The botched police response has become the focus in the aftermath of the shooting, as police waited more than an hour after the shooter entered two classrooms, where he fired more than 150 rounds in two and a half minutes. Last week, surveillance video leaked to the Austin American-Statesman showed cops swarming—hundreds of police responded to the shooting, more than the number of people who defend the Alamo, according to the Texas Tribune—but most were checking their phones and, in one case, using hand sanitizer as the shooter holded up in a classroom. 

The report says that while there “is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives” in the response, the committee “found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making.”

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Tagged:

texas, gun violence, Mass Shooting, gun laws, uvalde shooting, uvalde shooter

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