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Governor: Texas gunman said he was going to shoot up school

Gunman warned of shooting

UPDATE 12:55 p.m.

The gunman who massacred 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas had warned in online messages minutes before the attack that he had shot his grandmother and was going to shoot up a school, the governor said Wednesday.

Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the bloodshed Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that ended with police storming a classroom and killing him. He had legally bought two such rifles just days before, soon after his birthday, authorities said.

“Evil swept across Uvalde yesterday. Anyone who shoots his grandmother in the face has to have evil in his heart,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “But it is far more evil for someone to gun down little kids.”

Investigators shed no light on the motive for the attack, which also left at least 17 people wounded. The governor said Ramos, a resident of the small town about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio, had no known criminal or mental health history.

But about a half-hour before the bloodbath, Ramos sent three messages online, Abbott said. Ramos wrote in the first that he was going to shoot his grandmother, then that he had shot the woman, and finally that he was going to shoot up an elementary school, according to Abbott. It was not clear whether Ramos specified which school.

Ramos sent private, one-to-one text messages on Facebook that were “discovered after the terrible tragedy,” company spokesman Andy Stone said. He said Facebook is cooperating with investigators.

Amid calls around the U.S. for tighter restrictions on firearms, the Republican governor repeatedly talked about mental health struggles among Texas young people and argued that tougher gun laws in Chicago, New York and California are ineffective.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, interrupted Abbott's news conference and called the tragedy “predictable.” Pointing his finger at Abbott, he said: “This is on you until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen.” O’Rourke was escorted out as members of the crowd yelled at him, with one man calling him a “sick son of a bitch.”

Texas has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation and has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.

As details of the latest mass killing to rock the U.S. emerged, grief engulfed Uvalde, population 16,000.

The dead included an outgoing 10-year-old, Eliahna Garcia, who loved to sing, dance and play basketball; a fellow fourth-grader, Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been eagerly awaiting a summer of swimming; and a teacher, Eva Mireles, with 17 years’ experience whose husband is an officer with the school district’s police department.

“I just don’t know how people can sell that type of a gun to a kid 18 years old,” Eliahna’s aunt, Siria Arizmendi, said angrily through tears. “What is he going to use it for but for that purpose?”

Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN that all of those killed were in the same fourth-grade classroom.

The killer “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Olivarez said. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”

Police and others responding to the attack also went around breaking windows at the school to enable students and teachers to escape. Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed Ramos in one last exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

The attack in the predominantly Latino town was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The bloodshed was the latest in a seemingly unending string of mass killings at churches, schools, stores and other sites in the U.S. Just 10 days earlier, 10 Black people were shot to death in a racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.

In a somber address to the nation hours after the attack in Texas, President Joe Biden pleaded for Americans to “stand up to the gun lobby” and enact tougher restrictions, saying: “When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?”

But the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican opposition in Congress.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston, with the Texas governor and both of the state's Republican U.S. senators scheduled to speak.

On social media in the days and hours before the massacre, Ramos appeared to drop hints that something was going to happen.

On the day he bought his second weapon last week, an Instagram account that investigators say apparently belonged to Ramos carried a photo of two AR-style rifles. That post tagged another Instagram user, one with more than 10,000 followers, asking her to share the picture.

“I barely know you and u tag me in a picture with some guns,” replied the Instagram user, who has since removed her profile. “It’s just scary.”

On the morning of the attack, the account linked to the gunman replied: “I’m about to.”

Instagram confirmed to The Associated Press that it is working with law enforcement to review the account but declined to answer questions about the postings.

Investigators are also looking at an account on TikTok, possibly belonging to the shooter, with a profile that reads: “Kids be scared IRL,” an acronym meaning “in real life.” The profile is not dated.

Investigators do not yet know why Ramos targeted the school, said Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“We don’t see a motive or catalyst right now,” he said.

Officers found one of the rifles in Ramos’ truck, the other in the school, according to the briefing given to lawmakers. Ramos was wearing a tactical vest, but it had no hardened body-armor plates inside, lawmakers were told. He also dropped a backpack containing several magazines full of ammunition near the school entrance.

One of the guns was purchased at a federally licensed dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to state Sen. John Whitmire, who was briefed by investigators. Ramos bought 375 rounds of ammunition the next day, then purchased the second rifle last Friday.

On Tuesday morning, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at her home, then left. Neighbors called police when she staggered outside and they saw she had been shot in the face, Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine said.

Ramos then crashed his truck through a railing on the school grounds, and an Uvalde school district officer exchanged fire with him and was wounded, Considine said. Ramos went inside and exchanged more gunfire with two arriving Uvalde police officers, who were still outside, Considine said. Those officers were also wounded.


UPDATE: 9:40 a.m.

The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” authorities said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S.

Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed the gunman, who used an AR-style rifle. Police and others responding to Tuesday’s attack also went around breaking windows at the school to enable students and teachers to escape, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Olivarez told CNN that all of the victims were in the same fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary.

The killer "barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” he said. "It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”

Investigators did not immediately disclose a motive but identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. In chilling posts on social media in the days and hours before the massacre, an account that appeared to belong to Ramos seemed to hint at plans for violence.

Ramos legally bought two AR-style rifles just days before the attack, soon after his 18th birthday, state senators briefed by law enforcement said.

The attack in the predominantly Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The bloodshed was the latest in a seemingly unending string of mass killings at churches, schools, stores and other sites in the United States. Just 10 days earlier, 10 Black people were shot to death in a racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.

In a somber address to the nation hours after the attack in Texas, President Joe Biden pleaded for new gun restrictions.

“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” he asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?"

But the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican opposition in Congress.

Days before the attack, an Instagram account investigators say apparently belonged to Ramos posted a photo of a hand holding an ammunition magazine. On the day Ramos bought his second weapon last week, the account carried a photo of two AR-style rifles.

In that post, Ramos apparently tagged another Instagram user, one with more than 10,000 followers, asking her to share the picture with her followers.

“I barely know you and u tag me in a picture with some guns,” replied the Instagram user, who has since removed her profile. “It’s just scary.”

On the morning of the attack, the account linked to the gunman replied: “I’m about to.”

Instagram confirmed to The Associated Press that it is working with law enforcement to review the account but declined to answer questions about the postings.

Officers found one of the rifles in Ramos’ truck, the other in the school, according to the briefing given to lawmakers. Ramos was wearing a tactical vest, but it had no hardened body-armor plates inside, lawmakers were told. He also dropped a backpack containing several magazines full of ammunition near the school entrance.

One of the guns was purchased at a federally licensed dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to state Sen. John Whitmire. Ramos bought 375 rounds of ammunition the next day, then purchased the second rifle last Friday.

On Tuesday morning, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother, then fled the scene, crashing his truck near the school and entering the building, authorities said. Inside the barricaded classroom, he "just began shooting anyone that was in his way," Olivarez said.

Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a nearby classroom, said students were watching the Disney movie “Moana” when they heard several loud pops and a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, their teacher saw the attacker stride past the door.

“Oh, my God, he has a gun!” the teacher shouted twice, according to Silva. “The teacher didn’t even have time to lock the door,” he said.

A tactical team forced its way into the classroom where the attacker was holed up and was met with gunfire from Ramos but shot and killed him, according to Olivarez.

In the aftermath, families in Uvalde waited hours for word on their children. At the town civic center where some gathered Tuesday night, the silence was broken repeatedly by screams and wails. “No! Please, no!” one man yelled as he embraced another man. On Wednesday morning, volunteers were seen arriving with Bibles and therapy dogs.

Staff members in scrubs and devastated victims’ relatives could be seen weeping as they left Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where many of the children were taken. Three children and an adult were being treated at a San Antonio hospital, where two of them — a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl — were listed in serious condition.

Law enforcement officers investigating the bloodshed began serving search warrants and gathering telephone and other records. They also sought to contact Ramos’ relatives and trace the guns.

Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, is a single-story brick structure in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The attack came as the school was counting down to the last days of the school year with a series of themed days. Tuesday was to be “Footloose and Fancy,” with students wearing nice outfits.

Condolences poured in from leaders around the world. Pope Francis said it is time to say "'enough’ to the indiscriminate trade of weapons!” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his nation also knows “the pain of losing innocent young lives.”

Texas, which has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation, has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman shot more than two dozen people to death during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack targeting Hispanics.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Gov. Greg. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators, all of them Republicans, were among the scheduled speakers at a forum Friday.


ORIGINAL: 9 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined a global chorus of grief following the shooting deaths of 19 children at a small-town elementary school in Texas.

Trudeau says all of Canada is grieving the tragedy, which unfolded Tuesday afternoon in Uvalde, Tex., a community of 16,000 just west of San Antonio.

In the U.S., however, which is reeling from a recent string of mass shootings, grief has already given way to unbridled rage.

Tuesday's shooting, which also claimed the lives of two adults, comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.

And it echoes the 10-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Penn., which killed 20 children and six adults — a tragedy that failed to spur meaningful gun control efforts in the U.S.

The Texas horror is sure to dominate Senate proceedings, where President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is set to testify at committee.

"The students, the parents, the teachers, the entire community — they've had their lives changed forever by this unimaginable event," a sombre Trudeau said Tuesday in Vancouver.

"All of Canada grieves with our American friends on this terrible, terrible day."

Biden himself addressed the nation from the White House just hours after the shooting in an emotional and anger-tinged speech he said he'd hoped to never have to give.

"I am sick and tired of it," the president said. "We have to act. And don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage."



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