In aftermath of gunman killing 19 Texas elementary students officials, lawmakers look for answers
Mass shooting latest in years-long succession of attacks at public gathering places such as schools, stores, places of worship.
Law enforcement and elected officials worked through the night to learn more about the shooter in the killing Tuesday of 19 Texas elementary school students — the most recent mass shooting in a years-long series at churches, schools, concerts, and other public events.
The midday attack at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas, was the deadliest U.S. school shooting since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.
Two teachers also were fatally shot at the Uvalde, Texas, school by a gunman identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, also of Uvalde.
The attacker was killed by a Border Patrol agent who rushed into the school without waiting for backup, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.
The suspect, a reported high school dropout, did not have a criminal history or a mental health history, and law enforcement is working to determine if he had a juvenile record, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference on Wednesday.
He used one weapon, an AR-15 with .223 rounds, to carry out the attack, officials said.
"The gunman shot his grandmother in the face," Abbott told reporters. "She then contacted police. The gunman fled, and as he was fleeing, he had an accident just outside of the elementary school, and he ran into the school. Officers with the Consolidated Independent School District approached the gunman and engaged with the gunman at that time."
After entering the school, Ramos reportedly fired at "whoever was in his way" while in body armor, said Lt. Christopher Olivarez, of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Three officers were injured by gunfire, Abbott said, adding that a deputy sheriff lost a daughter in the school.
The suspect then entered a classroom that was connected internally to another classroom.
"The shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom, and again just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life," Olivarez told NBC on Wednesday. "Just a complete evil person.
"Just began shooting anyone that was in his way. At that point we had a tactical law enforcement team arrive — made up of multiple federal officers, local officers, as well as state troopers — that were able to able to make forcible entry into that classroom. They were met with gunfire as well but they were able to shoot and kill that suspect."
"Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde," Abbott said.
As with similar shootings in recent days, months and years, Ramos reportedly made online posts foreshadowing the attack.
He wrote on Facebook about 30 minutes before entering the school, "I am going to shoot my grandmother," Abbott said.
The gunman made a follow-up post, "I shot my grandmother," according to the governor.
Ramos' final post, about 15 minutes before arriving at the school, allegedly was, "I am going to shoot an elementary school," the governor reported.
His attack came just 10 days after a racially motivated shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket, resulting in the death of 10 people and the wounding of three others.
Social media posts by alleged gunman Payton Gendron, also 18, show he had been planning his attack for months.
The day before the attack, the FBI reported 61 "active shooter" incidents last year, the highest tally in more than two decades.
Officers said Ramos acted alone. But as of Wednesday, his motive for the killings remained unclear.
The shooting occurred during the Uvalde School District's last week in session before the summer break, authorities said.
All Uvalde School District activities have been canceled.