Authorities said a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, the deadliest shooting in the state’s modern history and the country’s third mass shooting in weeks.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Eric Estrada.
What followed was the deadliest shooting at an American elementary school since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Families waited all night, holding prayer circles and providing DNA samples to authorities in the hope that their children were alive. Public officials across the country expressed outrage and sadness over the attack.
►Federal law enforcement officials have told The Associated Press that the death toll is expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details of the investigation.
►Officials have not identified a motive in the shooting, but the shooter appears to have acted alone, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo said at a news conference.
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Where did the filming take place?
Authorities say the shooter entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 85 miles west of San Antonio, around 11:30 a.m. Central Time, and opened fire. Uvalde is home to approximately 16,000 people and is located approximately 75 miles from the Mexican border. About 82% of the city’s population is Latino, according to the US Census Bureau.
Robb Elementary, part of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, has just under 600 students. The district initially put all campuses on lockdown after shots were fired, and it canceled all district and campus activities, after-school programs, and events.
What do we know about the victims?
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the shooting, said Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A U.S. Border Protection agent, one of several responders at the scene, shot and killed the shooter, a senior Department of Homeland Security official told USA TODAY on Tuesday evening.
University Health, a hospital in San Antonio, announced Tuesday evening that it had four patients: a 66-year-old woman in critical condition; a 10-year-old girl in critical condition; a 10 year old girl in good condition and a 9 year old girl in good condition. As night fell, many families were still waiting for updates, hoping to hear that their children were in a hospital in Uvalde or San Antonio.
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Officials react to the shooting
President Joe Biden, at a press conference on Tuesday evening, denounced “another massacre” that left parents in unfathomable pain: “Losing a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped out” , did he declare. Biden also called for renewed push for gun control measures, lamenting the lack of progress despite repeated firings.
“Why are we willing to live with this carnage? he said. “It’s time to turn this pain into action.”
Abbott ordered that the Texas flag be immediately lowered to half mast across the state Tuesday through Saturday in memory of those who lost their lives in the school shooting.
“The first lady and I send our prayers of comfort to the survivors and the families of the victims, and we will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Abbott said.
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What do we know about the shooter?
Texas Governor Greg Abbott identified the assailant as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. He was killed by law enforcement after the shooting. The shooter allegedly legally purchased two assault rifles from a local gun store on his 18th birthday, Democratic Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez told USA TODAY.
Texas mourns another mass shooting
Over the past five years, Texas has been the scene of mass shootings that have killed more than 85 people. Congregants at a Sunday sermon, shoppers at a Walmart, students on a high school campus and drivers on a freeway were the targets. The conservative government in the Republican-controlled state is unlikely to restrict access to guns despite the carnage. Last year, gun laws were actually relaxed after a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a 2019 racist attack that targeted Hispanics.
“I can’t understand that,” said Democratic state senator Roland Gutierrez, – whose district includes Uvalde. “It’s troubling to me as a policy maker that we haven’t been able to do much more than create greater access to these militarized weapons for just about anyone who wants them.”
Contributor: Megan Menchaca, American statesman from Austin; N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Trevor Hughes, Chris Kenning, USA TODAY; The Associated Press