A shooting at a school in Texas has killed 15 people
Eugene Garcia and Daria Lopez-Mills
WALDE, Texas (AP) – An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 18 children, officials said, and the gunman was dead.
According to State Senator Roland Gutierrez, the death toll also included three adults, who said state police informed him of the deaths. But it was not immediately clear whether this number included the attacker.
It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. elementary school since gunmen nearly 20 years ago killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. And it came just 10 days after a gunman in a body armor killed 10 black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, as a result of a racist attack that authorities believe.
Federal law enforcement officials said the death toll was expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they had no right to disclose details of the investigation.
Governor Greg Abbott said an armed man entered Rob Elementary School in Uwalde with a pistol and possibly a rifle. Officials did not immediately disclose the motive, but the governor identified the attacker as Salvador Ramos and said he is a resident of the Latin American community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
A border guard, who was nearby when the shooting began, stormed the school without waiting for support and shot dead a gunman behind the barricade, a law enforcement official said on condition of anonymity because he had no right to talk about it.
The agent was injured but was able to leave the school, a law enforcement source said.
Abbott said the shooter was probably killed by police, but events are still under investigation. School District Police Chief Pete Aredonda said the attacker acted alone.
The massacre of young children was another horrific moment for a country suffering from an almost continuous series of mass killings in churches, schools and shops. And the prospects for any reform of national gun rules seemed at least as bleak as after Sandy Hook’s death.
The governor said that an armed man in Uwalde “shot and killed, horribly, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” the governor said, adding that two officers were also wounded but are expected to survive.
“Pray for the lost, their families and Uwalde,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg tweeted.
It was not immediately clear how many people were injured, but Aredonda said there were “several injured”. Earlier, the Uwalde Memorial Hospital reported that 13 children had been taken there. Another hospital reported that the 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
Rob’s primary school has just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves second, third and fourth graders. He did not name the age of the shot children. It was the last week of school classes before the summer holidays.
On Tuesday afternoon, the school was surrounded by a large police station, officers in heavy vests distracted traffic, and FBI agents went in and out of the building.
White House spokeswoman Caryn Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was informed of the shooting at Air Force One when he returned from a five-day trip to Asia. Biden was due to make remarks Tuesday night at the White House.
Uwalde is home to about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uwalde County. The city is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is located in a predominantly residential area of modest homes.
The Uwalde tragedy was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to the grim number of mass shootings in the state that were among the deadliest in the U.S. in five years.
In 2018, gunmen shot dead 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year earlier, a gunman at a Texas church had killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston. Abbott and both U.S. senators from Texas were among the Republican officials elected who were scheduled to speak at Friday’s Leaders’ Forum, sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying unit.
In the years since Sandy Hook, the debate over gun control in Congress has grown and weakened. Lawmakers ’efforts to substantially change U.S. gun policy are constantly facing obstacles from Republicans and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.
A year after Sandy Hook, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Patrick J. Tumi, a Republican from Pennsylvania, discussed a bipartisan proposal to expand the country’s history verification system. But as the measure was close to being put to the Senate for a vote, it became clear that it would not get enough votes to remove the 60-vote barrier.
Then-President Barack Obama, who made gun control central to his administration’s aftermath of the Newtown shooting, called Congress’ refusal to act “a rather disgraceful day for Washington.”
Last year, the House of Representatives passed two bills to expand the inspection of firearms purchases. One bill would close the loophole for private and online sales. Another would extend the verification period of the certificate. Both were bored in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the writer’s objections.
Associated Press authors Jake Blaiberg of Dallas, Ben Fox of Washington, Paul J. Weber of Austin and Juan Lausanne of Houston contributed to this report.