Tuesday, August 16

What we know — and don’t know — about the Texas elementary school shooting


As a picture emerges of the 18-year-old gunman who killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, investigators, families and a community in shock are searching for answers surrounding the deadliest US school shooting in a decade.

Authorities provided further details Wednesday about how the gunman — identified by authorities as Salvador Ramos — came upon Robb Elementary on Tuesday and set off on his deadly rampage. But officials also presented conflicting narratives, and there were lingering questions, including why he wasn’t stopped by armed officers who confronted him before he slipped inside the school and what made him target a school of second, third and fourth grade students.

“Obviously, this is a situation we failed in the sense that we didn’t prevent this mass attack, but I can tell you those officers that arrived on the scene and put their lives in danger, they saved other kids,” Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference with Gov. Greg Abbott.

Before the shooter opened fire at Robb Elementary at about 11:30 am, he wrote in Facebook messages Tuesday morning that “I’m going to shoot my grandmother” and then “I shot my grandmother,” authorities said.

About 15 minutes before the mass shooting, he wrote in a message that “I’m going to shoot an elementary school,” without naming Robb, McCraw said.

The gunman’s grandmother, whom he had been living with since March, was able to run across the street to a neighbor to call the police after she was shot, McCraw said. She was taken to a San Antonio hospital in critical condition.

Authorities haven’t released an exact timeline of Tuesday’s events.

Earlier in the day, an honor roll ceremony had been held at Robb Elementary with students’ parents in attendance.

Meanwhile, the gunman used his grandmother’s truck to drive about 2 miles to the school. Once he was there, he crashed the vehicle into a drainage ditch and got out carrying a backpack with extra ammunition magazines and a Daniel Defense DDM4 V7, a type of AR-15-style long rifle, McCraw said. Another rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, was later found on the ground outside the car, state and federal law enforcement officials said.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said on Fox News that the shooter climbed over the school fence to storm inside the building.

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“Luckily, there were some officers that were pursuing him already from where he shot his grandmother, and then there were officers at the school, I think,” he said.

Asked about the sequence of events, McLaughlin said that after the gunman shot his grandmother and wrecked the car, “there were officers coming around the corner… and he fled his car and ran to the school.”

According to Abbott, as the gunman made his way to the west side of the campus, officers with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District “engaged” him. The school district has its own police force, which routinely patrols its schools.

It’s unclear what the extent of the officers’ interaction was with the shooter.

“At that time, gunfire was not exchanged, but the subject was able to make it into the school,” McCraw said.

Authorities didn’t say why officers decided not to fire at the gunman. Abbott said he got inside the school through a back door, walked down two short hallways and then came upon two adjoining classrooms.

McCraw said, “That’s where the carnage began.”

In a Facebook post published at 11:43 am after the honor roll event, school administrators announced that the campus was under “a Lockdown Status due to gunshots in the area.”

Then, at 12:17 pm, administrators posted an update: “There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus.”

What happened inside the classroom?

Once he was inside the classroom, the gunman locked the door and began shooting.

Law enforcement officers, including local officers and a tactical team from US Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, arrived but were unable to enter the classroom.

They finally got the door open when the principal produced a master key, state and federal law enforcement officials said.

It’s unclear why officers couldn’t break down the door or how much time it took before they got inside the classroom.

A member of the CBP tactical team went in first with a holding shield, an agency official said. Three other officers followed and fired weapons, exchanging shots with the shooter and killing him.

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Besides from the 19 children and two adults who were killed, 17 people were injured, including three officers, Abbott said. All had injuries not thought to be life-threatening.

A CBP agent with the Del Rio sector involved in killing the gunman was among the wounded, two law enforcement sources said.

Uvalde, a city of about 16,000 an hour and a half west of San Antonio, is about 50 miles from the US-Mexico border.

Those who were killed and hurt were all in one classroom, Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told CNN.

Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, praised the staff members and law enforcement officers at the scene who protected more children against being harmed.

They “were willing to cradle their kids, get them out of the classroom when it was safe,” Harrell said.

What was the gunman’s motive?

McCraw said Wednesday that authorities “don’t see a motive or catalyst right now” for what happened.

The warnings that were sent in a Facebook message before the shooting weren’t posted publicly — they were sent in private one-to-one messages discovered after the shooting, Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said in a tweet.

The shooter had no adult criminal history, and investigators are having trouble finding any trace of friends, Olivarez said on MSNBC. Officials said the shooter bought the two rifles in his possession from him after he turned 18 on May 16.

He bought one rifle from a federally licensed gun dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to a state police briefing to state Sen. John Whitmire. On May 18, the gunman bought 375 rounds of ammunition. Then, two days later, he bought the second rifle.

He had attended Uvalde High School, but Abbott said investigators believe he dropped out.

Juan Alvarez, 62, who has been in a relationship with the shooter’s mother for about a year and lives with her, said Ramos left the home about two months ago after he and his mom had an intense argument after the Wi-Fi was disconnected. The two would often fight, he said.

“He was kind of a weird one. I never got along with him. I never socialized with him. He doesn’t talk to nobody,” Alvarez said. “When you try to talk to him, he’d just sit there and walk away.”

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The shooter’s grandfather told ABC News he had no idea his grandson had purchased rifles or that they were in his house.

Because the grandfather, Rolando Reyes, 72, is reported to be a felon, he can’t live in a home with firearms. If Reyes had known, he told ABC News, he would have turned his grandson in.

Investigators haven’t found any connection between the shooter and the school he targeted, and there are varying reports about whether he had a juvenile police record. There is no record of any government mental health treatment or response for him.

Who were the victims?

According to authorities, all of the children who were killed have been identified, although not all of their names have been made public.

Relatives of the teachers who were killed, Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, said they appeared to be trying to protect their students when they were fatally shot.

Many of the students who were killed were in the fourth grade. The gunman fired at one, Amerie Jo Garza, as she tried to call 911, her grandmother de ella Berlinda Irene Arreola told The Daily Beast.

Other students confirmed to have been killed include Xavier Lopez, 10; Jose Flores Jr., 10; Uziyah Garcia; Alithia Ramirez; Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10; Elijah Cruz Torres, 10; Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 10; Rojelio Torres, 10; Jacklyn Cazares, 10; Jailah Nicole Silguero; Jayce Carmelo Luevanos; and Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio.

Xavier had been looking forward to a summer of swimming. Ebullient and loving, he was “just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” cousin Lisa Garza said.

Uziyah’s grandfather Manny Renfro told The Associated Press that he was a quick, adept football player — they last played the sport in San Angelo during spring break.

“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Renfro said. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”




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