UVALDE, Texas –
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, killing at least 19 children as he walked from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the last horrific moment for a marked country. for a series of massacres. The assailant was killed by law enforcement.
The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of them was a teacher.
The robbery at Robb Elementary School in the Latin city of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. elementary school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. in December 2012.
Hours after the attack, families were still waiting for news from their children.
Outside the city’s civic center, where families were told to gather, silence was repeatedly broken with shouts and moans. “No! Please, no!” shouted one man as he hugged another.
“My heart is broken today,” said Hal Harrell, the school district’s superintendent, announcing that all school activities have been canceled for the time being. “We are a small community and we need your prayers to overcome this.”
The attack also took place just 10 days after a racist and deadly attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which has added to a series of years of mass killings in churches, schools and shops. And the prospect of any reform of the nation’s arms regulations seemed as faint, if not fainter, than after the deaths of Sandy Hook.
But President Joe Biden seemed ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions on an address to the nation hours after the attack.
“As a nation we must ask ourselves, when in the name of God will we face the gun lobby? When in the name of God will we do what needs to be done?” Biden asked. “Why are we willing to live with this butchery?”
Many of the injured were rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where staff with bushes and relatives of the devastated victims could be seen crying as they left the complex.
Officials did not immediately disclose the motive, but identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 135 miles west of San Antonio. Law enforcement said he acted alone.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could come, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been informed by state police. He noted that the gunman “suggested that the children should be watched.”
Before going to school, Ramon killed his grandmother with two military-style rifles he bought on his birthday, Gutiérrez said.
“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said.
The attack began around 11:30 a.m., when the gunman crashed his car outside the school and crashed into the building, according to Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. A neighbor who heard the crash called 911 and two local police officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter.
Both officers were shot, although it was not immediately known at what location on campus the confrontation took place, nor how long it took before more authorities arrived at the scene.
Meanwhile, teams of Border Patrol agents rushed to the school, including 10 to 15 members of a SWAT-like tactical and counterterrorism unit, said Jason Owens, a senior regional Border Patrol official.
A Border Patrol officer who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed to the school without waiting for a backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to an official of the order that he spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so. Talk about it.
The officer was injured but was able to leave the school, police sources said.
Owens confirmed that one officer suffered minor injuries, but did not give details of that confrontation.
He said some area agents have children at Robb Elementary.
“We have children from the Border Patrol going to this school. He came home for everyone,” he said.
It was not immediately known how many people were injured, but Uvalde police chief Pete Arredondo said there were “several injuries”. Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported that a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students and Arredondo said it serves second, third and fourth graders. He did not provide the ages of the children who were shot. This was the last week of school class before the summer break.
Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary is located in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.
The Uvalde tragedy was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and has been added to a serious story in the state, which has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the United States in the last five years. years.
In 2018, a gunman shot dead 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year earlier, a gunman in a Texas church 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.
The shooting came days before the annual National Rifle Association convention in Houston began. Abbott and the two U.S. senators from Texas were among the elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday-led leadership forum sponsored by the NRA.
In the years since Sandy Hook, the arms control debate in Congress has grown and diminished. Legislative efforts to change U.S. weapons policy in a significant way have consistently faced Republican blockades and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.
A year after Sandy Hook, West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the country’s background check system. But the measure failed in a vote in the Senate, without enough support to overcome a 60-vote hurdle.
Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control a central focus of his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, described the lack of congressional action as “a rather embarrassing day for Washington.”
Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on gun purchases. An invoice would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections to obstructionism.
Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin, and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.