At least 19 children and two adults were slain by a teenage gunman who stormed an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, marking the latest instance of gun-fueled mass murder in the United States and the nation’s bloodiest school shooting in nearly a decade.
The 18-year-old suspect, who was presumably slain by police, shot his grandmother before fleeing the scene, crashing his getaway vehicle, and unleashing a violent spree at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, some 80 miles (130 kilometres) west of San Antonio.
The intent was not readily obvious.
Sergeant Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) told CNN that law enforcement officers saw the gunman in body armour and holding a weapon emerge from his crashed vehicle and “engage” the suspect, who nonetheless charged inside the school and opened fire.
Later, a clearly shocked U.S. President Joe Biden urged Americans to stand up to the politically influential U.S. gun lobby, which he blamed for stalling the passage of stricter “common-sense” weapons safety rules.
Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until Saturday evening in remembrance of the tragedy.
Governor Greg Abbott stated that the man, named as Salvador Ramos, was apparently killed by police officers and that two policemen were injured by gunfire, but their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
According to authorities, the suspect acted alone.
In an official statement, the state attorney general’s office clarified the death toll as 18 children, two adults, and the gunman. Initially, the death toll had been reported inconsistently. A Texas DPS official later told CNN that, excluding the shooter, 19 schoolchildren and two adults were slain.
According to Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department, who also addressed media, the school’s student population is comprised of youngsters in the second, third, and fourth grades. Students in these grades presumably ranged in age from 7 to 10 years old.
The tragedy occurred 10 days after 10 people were killed in a predominately Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York. Authorities have charged an 18-year-old guy who, according to them, went hundreds of miles to Buffalo and opened fire on a grocery shop with an assault-style rifle.
The gunman opened fire on his grandmother before entering the school, Texas Department of Public Safety officer Chris Olivarez stated on Fox News, confirming what Abbott had revealed earlier in the day.
The governor stated, “I have no additional information regarding the connection between these two shootings.”
A 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old daughter, both in serious condition, were transported to University Hospital in San Antonio following the shooting in Uvalde, according to a tweet from the hospital.
15 pupils from Robb Elementary were treated at Uvalde Memorial Hospital’s emergency room; two were sent to San Antonio for further care, and a third transfer was pending. It was initially unclear whether or not all of the students survived.
A 45-year-old victim who was grazed by a gunshot was also admitted to Uvalde Memorial, according to the hospital.
Hours after the shooting, the school was sealed off with yellow tape by the police. Police cruisers and emergency vehicles were dispersed around the school’s perimeter. Small groups of uniformed individuals, some in camouflage and carrying semi-automatic weapons, were assembled.