21 people killed at Uvalde Elementary School in deadliest shooting in Texas

By Sneha Dey, The Texas Tribune

May 24, 2022

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Nineteen children and two adults were killed Tuesday in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County, making it the deadliest shooting in Texas history.

“My heart is broken today,” Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said while fighting back tears at a press conference Tuesday night. “We are a small community and we need your prayers to get through this.”

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Governor Greg Abbott said the shooter was killed. The shooter was believed to have acted alone, said Pete Arredondo, CISD police chief of Uvalde.

“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

President Joe Biden has spoken to Abbott to offer help, White House officials said. Biden also ordered flags on all public property and at US embassies to be flown at half-mast in memory of those killed.

“Tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them. Give parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now,” Biden said during a Tuesday night press briefing.

Biden also issued a new call to reform gun laws.

“As a nation, we have to ask ourselves – when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” he said.

One of the two adult victims was identified as a teacher, Eva Mireles, by her aunt and A parent of a student on social networks. The other adult and the 19 children have not been identified. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, told CNN there may be a third adult dead, but authorities have not confirmed this.

Authorities and hospital officials said other people were injured but did not confirm the number.

Abbott identified the shooter as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident. The man abandoned his vehicle and entered Robb Elementary with a handgun and possibly a rifle, the governor said.

Filming began around 11:32 a.m., Arredondo said. The Uvalde School District reported an active shooter on Twitter at 12:17 p.m.

U.S. Border Patrol officers responded to a request for law enforcement assistance, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said. Law enforcement officers entered the school building and were met with gunfire from the shooter, who was barricaded inside. A Border Patrol agent shot the gunman before waiting for reinforcements, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The shooter shot his grandmother before the school shooting, Gutierrez told CNN. The grandmother was airlifted to San Antonio and “still holding on” Tuesday night, according to information given to Gutierrez by the Texas Rangers.

The Daily Dot reported that the shooter had recently purchased a rifle online. He posted images of two rifles in his final Instagram post before the social media platform deleted the account, according to the outlet.

Robb Elementary teaches second, third, and fourth graders. Pupils were due to celebrate their last day of the school year on Thursday.

The school had 535 students in the 2020–21 school year, most of whom were Hispanic and considered economically disadvantaged. Uvalde is a relatively small town about 85 miles west of San Antonio. Its population of approximately 15,200 is predominantly Hispanic.

Earlier Tuesday, CISD Uvalde placed all campuses under lockdown after shots were fired in the area. Harrell said the school will be closed for the rest of the school year, although bereavement counseling will be offered to students.

U.S. Representative Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district includes Robb Elementary School, wrote on Twitter, “My heart breaks for the town of Uvalde. Pray for our families.” and quoted a Bible verse.

The Uvalde massacre is the second deadliest shooting on record at an elementary, middle or high school in the United States, following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, according to The New York Times. The Uvalde massacre is the eighth mass shooting in a public space in Texas since an Army psychiatrist opened fire on the Fort Hood Army base in November 2009, killing 13 people in what was later determined to be an act of religious extremism. Five years later, in April 2014, another Fort Hood soldier killed three people and injured a dozen others on base before killing himself in a firefight with military police.

Since then, the pace of mass shootings in Texas has accelerated, as has the death toll:

  • In July 2016, five Dallas police officers were killed by a 25-year-old man who targeted officers during a Black Lives Matter protest; the shooter injured nine other officers and two civilians before being killed by a remote-controlled bomb following a clash with police.
  • In November 2017, a 26-year-old man opened fire during Sunday morning services at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others. The shooter fled the area when a local man began shooting at him, then shot and killed himself after a car chase.
  • Six months later, in May 2018, a 17-year-old student shot and killed eight students and two teachers and injured 13 at Santa Fe High School near Houston. He was arrested approximately 25 minutes after the shooting began.
  • In August 2019, a 21-year-old man drove from suburban Dallas to El Paso, posted a racist manifesto, then started shooting people at a Walmart, targeting Latinos. He killed 23 people and injured 25 before leaving the store and surrendering to nearby Texas Rangers.
  • Later that month, a 36-year-old man engaged in a shooting in the Midland-Odessa region, killing seven and injuring 25. The man, who had been fired from his job that morning, was shot dead by police outside a cinema in Odessa.

And over the past decade, state lawmakers have responded to mass shootings in Texas and elsewhere with a slew of laws that prioritized Second Amendment rights and increased Texans’ ability to carry guns in places where they were previously prohibited.

The 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown spurred a new Texas law the following year that created a school marshal program allowing certain employees to have firearms in Texas schools. .

Four years later, lawmakers allowed Texans to openly carry guns rather than having them concealed and required public universities to allow anyone with the proper license to carry concealed weapons in dorms. , classrooms and campus buildings.

Frankie Miranda, CEO of the Hispanic Federation, called for concrete steps to make Latino communities safer, such as commitments to fund mental health services and gun control measures. And in a joint statement, the National Education Association and the Texas State Teachers Association called on lawmakers to address gun violence: “Tragedies like this continue to happen while elected officials do nothing except, in the case of Texas, making guns more available.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement on Tuesday that he was “uplifting the entire community of Uvalde in prayer during this devastating time.” He also has Told journalists that he does not consider gun control measures effective in preventing crime.

Abbott, along with Cruz and former President Donald Trump, is scheduled to speak Friday at the National Rifle Association’s 2022 annual meeting in Houston. Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate challenging Abbott in the November general election, called on the governor Tuesday night to step aside from the meeting.

“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas,” O’Rourke tweeted.

Politico reported that a spokesperson for U.S. Senator John Cornyn said he would not attend the meeting, citing an unexpected change in his schedule that occurred before Uvalde’s shooting.

Alexa Ura, Lomi Kriel and Reese Oxner contributed to this story.

Disclosure: Politico, Texas State Teachers Association, The New York Times, and the University of Texas at Austin financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by member donations, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list here.


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