HOUSTON — A gunman killed 19 people, including 18 children, in a shooting Tuesday at an elementary school in a predominantly Latino Texas town.
“He shot and killed — horrifically, incomprehensibly,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Abbott said at a news conference that the shooter — whom he identified as Salvador Ramos, 18 — had a handgun and possibly a rifle Tuesday morning when he entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a city of about 16,000 people approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio.
Police officers are believed to have killed the gunman, who had been a student at a nearby high school, Abbott said.
Pete Arredondo, police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said Tuesday afternoon that investigators believed that “the suspect did act alone during this heinous crime.”
Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother before he arrived at the elementary school, according to a law enforcement source.
Clad in all black, Ramos was captured on a security camera approaching the school carrying at least one visible weapon. Investigators searched a black SUV that the gunman abandoned near the school moments before the shooting and federal and local law enforcement are conducting searches at his home and other addresses associated with his family.
The incident is the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the 2012 Sandy Hook school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Everybody’s heartbroken and stunned,” said Uvalde County Commissioner John Yeackle. “It’s a small town, so no one is going to be unaffected. There won’t be anybody that doesn’t know — either directly or indirectly — either family or friends that are going to be affected by this.”
At least two officers were struck by the shooter’s gunfire and one has a wound, according to a law enforcement source.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital received 17 injured children via ambulance or school bus, two of them dead on arrival, according to hospital Chief Executive Tom Nordwick.
Nordwick said the hospital also treated a man in his mid-40s who had suffered minor injuries in the shooting.
“He just said, ‘Treat the kids,’” Nordwick said, adding that 12 children were still being treated in the ER. He couldn’t say what their condition was.
Two children were transported to a hospital in San Antonio, and another was awaiting transport, hospital officials said. University Hospital in San Antonio said in a statement that a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl at the hospital were in critical condition.
President Joe Biden, who is set to deliver remarks on the shooting this evening, issued a proclamation ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Saturday in honor of those killed in the attack.
Robb Elementary has an enrollment of just under 600 students. Earlier Tuesday, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District had said that all schools in the district were in lockdown due to gunshots in the area.
The school district instructed parents of children at the elementary school to stay away from the school and gather at the Uvalde Civic Center for “reunification.”
“Please do not pick up students at this time,” a message on the district website said. “Students need to be accounted for before they are released to your care.”
“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” Abbott said in a statement.
“Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss,” he added, referring to his wife. “And we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering.”
Abbott, who is scheduled to address the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Houston later this week along with former President Donald Trump, said he had instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to investigate the shooting.
The politics of gun control in America quickly came to play.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the victims were “taken at the hands of an individual who should have never had a weapon in the first place.”
“Tragedies like this will continue to leave Texas families grieving and traumatized until our state starts prioritizing our families, our safety, and our future,” he said in a statement. Today, we grieve and renew our demand for meaningful action now to end gun violence. Texas families can’t wait any longer.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control, the first half of the 2021-2022 school year was the deadliest in recent history.
There have been at least 77 incidents of gunfire on school grounds across the country, resulting in 14 deaths and 45 injuries, so far this year. Six of these incidents took place in Texas.
“We are heartbroken for everyone impacted by this senseless act of violence in a predominantly Latinx community,” Rena Estala, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Students Demand Action, said in a statement. “School is the last place where kids should have to worry about gun violence. We need leaders at every level to prioritize gun safety now.”
(Los Angeles Times staff writers Richard Winton in Los Angeles and Courtney Subramanian in Washington contributed to this report.)©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.