At least 19 children and two adults were killed in a massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, in the worst school shooting at a U.S. grade school in a decade.
The suspect, an 18-year-old male, Salvador Ramos, launched his attack on Robb Elementary School wearing body armor and armed with a long rifle, according to officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"As soon as he made entry into the school, he started shooting children, teachers, whoever's in his way. He was shooting everybody," Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, spokesperson from Texas’ Department of Public Safety, told local news outlet KENS 5. The suspect, who was killed by law enforcement at the scene, was a senior at the nearby Uvalde High School.
Before charging into Robb elementary, authorities said the suspect fatally shot his grandmother, and then crashed his car near the elementary school. Another spokesperson from Texas’ Department of Public Safety told CNN that law enforcement outside the school initially attempted to “engage” the suspect, but was unable to prevent him from entering the school.
President Joe Biden addressed the shooting on Tuesday night.
“I hoped when I became president that I would not have to do this again,” Biden said. “An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent, second, third, fourth graders… To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.”
Biden called for action to limit the sale of powerful assault rifles.
“As a nation we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
The attack represents the deadliest elementary school shooting since a gunman killed 27 people, including 20 first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012—and the worst mass shooting ever at a school in Texas.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital said they had earlier received 13 children for treatment, three of whom were transferred to a facility in San Antonio.
University Health confirmed it had received two victims—a 10-year-old girl and a 66-year-old woman—who were being treated for injuries. Both are reported to be in critical condition.
The youngest of the victims are thought to be 9 or 10 years old, local news television station KENS 5 reported. The children at the school are between 2nd and 4th grade, which would mean the students are generally between 7 and 10 years old. According to state data, 535 students were enrolled in the 2020-21 school year; nearly 90 percent are Hispanic and 81 percent are “economically disadvantaged.”
The three deceased adults are believed to be a teacher, the suspect’s grandmother, and the suspect himself.
The shooting started at 11:32 a.m., Pete Arredondo, new Uvalde Consolidated Independent School Dstrict chief of police, said in a brief statement to the media. Police believe the shooter acted alone, Arredondo said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said two responding officers were struck by rounds, but incurred no serious injuries.
Reports from local media showed a large law enforcement presence outside the school, including armored vehicles. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) were among those responding to the shooting.
One woman survived the shooting by hiding in the bathroom, local news television station KENS 5 reported. During the attack she sent a text message to her family that said: “Someone is shooting at the school. I love you,” the outlet reported.
The shooting took place with only two days left in the school year in Uvalde, a small town in a farming community located about 80 miles from San Antonio.
Local news stations outside the “reunification center” showed some people huddling and crying. A reporter from KSAT said that as time went on, the only people left at the center were those who were unable to locate their children.