UVALDE, Texas — The gunman who massacred 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school legally bought two AR-style rifles just days before the attack, soon after his 18th birthday, and seemed to hint online that something was about to happen.
Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the bloodbath Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The semi-automatic rifle has been identified as a “DDM4 Rifle” modeled after the M4 carbine, the U.S. military’s go-to rifle, according to a blog post by the gun’s maker, Daniel Defense.
Parents of the victims of the massacre have come forward, publicly criticizing authorities for how long it took them to intervene. Javier Cazares is the father of fourth-grader Jacklyn Cazares, one of 19 youngsters who died.
Cazares says he raced to school when he heard about the shooting and arrived while police were still massed outside the building. Cazares says he was upset that police weren’t charging and raised to the idea of going inside himself with several others.
A school neighbor, Juan Carranza, says onlookers shouted at officers to go inside but they didn’t.
Authorities say the massacre inside a locked classroom lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation says Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key.
Abbott said Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio, had no known criminal or mental health history.
About 30 minutes before the bloodbath, Ramos made three social media posts, Gov. Gregg Abbot said. According to the governor, Ramos posted that he was going to shoot his grandmother, then that he had shot the woman, and finally that he was going to shoot up an elementary school.
Seventeen people were also injured in the attack.
Investigators did not immediately disclose a motive. But in chilling posts on social media in the days and hours before the massacre, an account that appeared to belong to Ramos displayed photos of his guns and seemed to indicate something was going to happen.
Sen. Roland Gutierrez said he was briefed by state police on the latest fatalities at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a heavily Latino community about 85 miles west of San Antonio.
Three people wounded in the attack are hospitalized in serious condition, Gutierrez told The Associated Press.
Earlier, Gov. Greg Abott said fourteen children and one teacher were killed in a shooting at a Texas elementary school Tuesday, and the 18-year-old gunman is dead.
"He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher," said the governor.
The gunman was a resident of the community and entered the school with a handgun, and possibly a rifle, and opened fire, Abbott said. He said the shooter was likely killed by responding officers but that the events were still being investigated. Uvalde CISD early Tuesday afternoon reported the active shooter at Robb Elementary. The elementary only has 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade students, with approximately 600 students in total.
The gunman, who was wearing body armor, crashed his car outside the school before going inside, Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN.
He killed his grandmother before heading to the school with two military-style rifles he had purchased on his birthday, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police.
“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said.
The Uvalde Police Department at 1:06 p.m. reported it had taken the suspect into custody.
Citing the school district, police reported it had set a reunification center up at Willie DeLeon Civic Center.
Uvalde Memorial said the immediate family of those students injured are to report to the cafeteria on the second floor of the hospital and that staff members will be in constant communication with them. If you are not an immediate family, you are asked to stay away from the hospital.
According to University Health in San Antonio, two patients from the shooting, one child and one adult, are being treated at the hospital. They are currently being evaluated and their condition is unknown. The adult is reported to be a 66-year-old woman.
Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uvalde County. The town is about 75 miles from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes. There is a funeral home across the street from the school.
According to his press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, President Biden is receiving regular briefings on the shooting, and will continue to do so.
A Border Patrol agent who was among the first law enforcement officers on scene was shot and wounded by the gunman, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The agent is hospitalized in good condition, the official said.
The tragedy in Uvalde added to a grim tally of mass shootings in Texas that have been among the deadliest in the U.S. over the past five years. One year before the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018, a gunman at 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 National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm
The shooting in Uvalde comes on the brink of the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.
A year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the nation’s background check system.
Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called Congress' failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.