Basic shooting in Texas: updates, deaths, suspect

An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, killing at least 19 children as he walked from class to class, officials said, in the deadliest shooting at a school in nearly of a decade and the last horrific moment for a country marked by a series of massacres. The assailant was killed by law enforcement.

The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Governor Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.

The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at an American school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Hours after the attack, the families were still waiting for news of their children.

Outside the city’s civic center, where families were expected to wait for news of loved ones, the silence was repeatedly broken by screams and groans. “No! Please, no!” shouted a man, kissing another man.

“My heart is broken today,” said school district superintendent Hal Harrell. “We are a small community, and we are going to need your prayers to get through this.”

Adolfo Cruz, a 69-year-old air conditioning repairman, was still out of school as the sun went down, looking for news of his 10-year-old great-granddaughter, Elijah Cruz Torres.

He drove to the scene after receiving a chilling call from his daughter shortly after the first reports of the shooting. He said other relatives were at the hospital and the civic center.

Waiting, he says, was the heaviest moment of his life.

“I hope she’s alive,” Cruz said.

The attack came just 10 days after a deadly and racist rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, added to a years-long string of massacres at churches, schools and shops. And the prospects for national gun regulatory reform looked as bleak, if not bleaker, than in the aftermath of Sandy Hook’s death.

But President Joe Biden appeared ready to fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.

“As a nation, we have to ask ourselves, 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 needs to be done? Biden asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”

Many of the injured were rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where staff in scrubs and relatives of the devastated victims could be seen crying as they exited the complex.

Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but they identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Law enforcement officials said he acted alone.

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

The school has nearly 600 students in the second, third and fourth year. The vast majority of students are Latinos.

Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack might be happening, according to State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he was briefed by state police. He noted that the shooter “suggested the kids to be careful.”

Before heading to school, Ramos killed his grandmother with two military-style rifles he bought on her birthday, Gutierrez said.

“It was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said. Other officials later said the grandmother had survived and was being treated, but her condition was not known.

Investigators believe Ramos posted photos on Instagram of two guns he used in the shooting, and they were investigating whether he made any statements online alluding to the attack in the hours leading up to the assault. said a law enforcement official.

Law enforcement officers were serving multiple search warrants Tuesday night and gathering phone and other records, the official said. Investigators were also trying to contact Ramos’ relatives and trace the firearms.

The official could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The attack began around 11:30 a.m. when the gunman crashed his car in front of the school and drove into the building, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine. A resident who heard the accident called 911 and two local police officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter.

Both officers were shot, though it’s not immediately clear where on campus this confrontation took place, or how long it took before other authorities arrived on the scene.

Meanwhile, teams of Border Patrol agents rushed to the school, including 10 to 15 members of a SWAT-style tactical and counterterrorism unit, said Jason Owens, a senior regional Border Patrol official. .

A Border Patrol agent who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official. Lois speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it.

The officer was injured but was able to walk out of the school, the police source said.

Owens confirmed that an officer suffered minor injuries, but did not provide details of that confrontation.

He said some officers in the area had children at Robb Elementary.

“We have Border Patrol kids going to this school. It affected everyone,” he said.

It was not immediately known how many people were injured, but Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo said there were “multiple injuries”. Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children had been taken there. Another hospital reported that a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.

Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 120 kilometers from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The Uvalde tragedy was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally in the state, which has seen some of the deadliest shootings in the United States. United over the past five years.

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

The shooting took place days before the start of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston. Abbott and the two U.S. senators from Texas were among Republican lawmakers who were scheduled speakers at a leadership forum on Friday sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has had its ups and downs. Efforts by lawmakers to meaningfully change U.S. gun policies have consistently faced obstacles from Republicans and influence from outside groups such as the NRA.

One year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the country’s background check system. But the measure failed in a Senate vote, without enough support to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control a central goal of his administration after the Newtown shootings, called Congress’ failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.” .

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on gun purchases. A bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the review period for the background check. The two languished in the Senate 50-50, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster’s objections.

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Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills in Uvalde, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin, Juan Lozano in Houston, Gene Johnson in Seattle and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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Read more about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

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