Gunman kills 19 youngsters in Texas college combat

People are being helped to cross the road to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, the place a number of individuals believed to be injured in a capturing at or close to a faculty will probably be handled in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. A giant police presence on the hospital was holding most individuals out. Billy Calzada / San Antonio Express-News

UVALDE, Texas (AP) – An 18-year-old gunman opened fireplace on a Texas elementary college on Tuesday, killing a minimum of 19 youngsters as he walked from classroom to classroom, officers stated, within the deadliest college capturing in practically a decade and the final ugly second for a rustic scarred by a sequence of massacres. The attacker was killed by police.

The loss of life toll additionally included two adults, authorities stated. Governor Greg Abbott stated certainly one of the 2 was a trainer.

The assault at Robb Elementary School within the closely Latin American metropolis of Uvalde was the deadliest capturing at an American college since a gunman killed 20 youngsters and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

A couple of hours after the assault, households have been nonetheless ready to be notified of their youngsters.

Outside town’s civic heart, the place households have been requested to look ahead to information of their liked ones, the silence was damaged repeatedly by screams and wailing. “No! Please do not!” shouted a person as he embraced one other man.

“My heart is broken today,” stated Hal Harrell, the college district superintendent. “We are a small community and we will need your prayers to get through this.”

Adolfo Cruz, a 69-year-old local weather repairman, was nonetheless outdoors college when the solar went down, looking for to listen to about his 10-year-old great-grandson, Elijah Cruz Torres.

He drove to the scene after receiving a scary name from his daughter shortly after the primary stories of the capturing. He stated different family have been on the hospital and the civic heart.

Waiting, he stated, was the heaviest second of his life.

“I hope she’s alive,” Cruz stated.

The assault got here simply 10 days after a lethal, racist vandalism in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, which added to a years-long sequence of mass killings in church buildings, faculties and outlets. And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun guidelines appeared as weak, if not weaker, than within the wake of the Sandy Hook deaths.

But President Joe Biden gave the impression to be prepared for a combat, calling for brand spanking new arms restrictions in a speech to the nation a couple of hours after the assault.

“As a nation, we must ask, when in God’s name should we stand up to the arms lobby? When in God’s name should we do what needs to be done?” requested Biden. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”

Many of the injured have been rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, the place employees members within the bush and family of injured victims may very well be seen crying as they walked out of the complicated.

Officials didn’t instantly reveal a motive, however they recognized the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the group about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Law enforcement officers stated he acted alone.

The assault got here as Robb Elementary counts right down to the closing days of the college yr with a sequence of theme days. Tuesday was purported to be “Footloose and Fancy”, with college students sporting nice outfits and sneakers.

The college has nearly 600 college students in second, third and fourth grade. The overwhelming majority of college students are Latino.

Ramos had hinted on social media that an assault might come, in line with state Senator Roland Gutierrez, who stated he had been briefed by state police. He famous that the gunman “suggested that the children take care.”

Before going to highschool, Ramos killed his grandmother with two military-like rifles he purchased on his birthday, Gutierrez stated.

“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he stated. Other officers later stated the grandmother had survived and was being handled as her situation was not identified.

Investigators imagine Ramos posted photographs on Instagram of two weapons he utilized in the capturing and are investigating whether or not he made statements on-line that alluded to the assault within the hours earlier than the assault, a legislation enforcement official stated.

Law enforcement officers served a number of search warrants Tuesday night time and picked up cellphone and different data, the official stated. Investigators additionally tried to contact Ramos’ family and tracked down the firearms.

The official couldn’t talk about the main points of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on situation of anonymity.

The assault started round 11:30 a.m. when the gunman crashed his automobile outdoors the college and bumped into the constructing, in line with Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. A resident who heard the crash referred to as 911 and two native law enforcement officials exchanged photographs with the shooter.

Both officers have been shot, even though it was not instantly clear the place on campus, the confrontation occurred, or how lengthy it took earlier than a number of authorities arrived on the scene.

Meanwhile, groups of border patrol brokers drove to the college, together with 10 to fifteen members of a SWAT-like tactical and counter-terrorism unit, stated Jason Owens, a prime regional official with the border patrol.

A border patrol agent working close by when the capturing started rushed into the college with out anticipating backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, in line with a legislation enforcement official who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to discuss it.

The agent was injured however was in a position to stroll out of the college, police sources stated.

Owens confirmed that an agent suffered minor accidents however wouldn’t present particulars of that confrontation.

He stated some space brokers have youngsters at Robb Elementary.

“We have border patrol children going to this school. It hit home for everyone,” he stated.

It was not instantly clear how many individuals have been injured, however Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo stated there have been “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital stated 13 youngsters have been taken there. Another hospital reported {that a} 66-year-old lady was in vital situation.

Uvalde, residence to about 16,000 individuals, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is positioned in a predominantly residential neighborhood with modest houses.

The Uvalde tragedy was the deadliest college capturing in Texas’ historical past, and it added to a dismal quantity within the state, which has been the location of a few of the deadliest shootings within the United States previously 5 years.

In 2018, an armed man shot useless 10 individuals at Santa Fe High School within the Houston space. A yr earlier than, an armed man at a Texas church killed greater than two dozen individuals throughout a Sunday service within the small city of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, one other gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 individuals in a racist assault focusing on Latin Americans.

The capturing got here days earlier than the National Rifle Association’s annual conference was to start in Houston. Abbott and each Texas’ U.S. senators have been among the many elected Republican officers who have been the scheduled audio system at a Friday management discussion board sponsored by the NRA’s foyer arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun management debate in Congress has grown and slowed down. Legislators’ efforts to vary U.S. gun insurance policies in any vital method have persistently confronted roadblocks from Republicans and affect from exterior teams similar to the NRA.

One yr after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, a bipartisan proposal to develop the nation’s background verify system. But the measure failed in a Senate vote with out adequate assist to beat a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun management central to his administration’s targets after the capturing in Newtown, referred to as the dearth of motion by Congress “a rather shameful day for Washington.”

Last yr, Parliament handed two payments to prolong background checks on firearms purchases. A invoice would have closed a loophole for non-public and on-line gross sales. The different would have prolonged the assessment interval for background checks. Both languished within the 50-50 Senate, the place Democrats want a minimum of 10 Republican votes to beat objections from a filibuster.
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Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills in Uvalde, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox, Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin, Juan Lozano in Houston, Gene Johnson in Seattle and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to Among different issues, this report.

ACACIA CORONADO and JIM VERTUNO

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