Governor: Texas shooter said he would shoot school – Boston News, Weather, Sports

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who massacred 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school warned in online messages sent minutes before the attack that he had shot his grandmother and would shoot a school, he said the governor on Wednesday .

Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle in Tuesday’s bloodshed at Robb Primary School in Uvalde, which ended when police stormed a classroom and killed him. He legally bought the rifle and a second similar one last week, just after his May 16 birthday, authorities said.

“Evil befell Uvalde yesterday. Anyone who shoots their grandmother in the face must have evil in their hearts,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “But it’s much worse when someone shoots small children.”

The investigators could not clarify the motive for the attack, in which at least 17 people were injured. The governor said Ramos, a resident of the small town about 135 kilometers west of San Antonio, has no known criminal or mental health history.

But about half an hour before the mass shooting, Ramos sent the first of three messages online, Abbott said. Ramos wrote that he wanted to shoot his grandmother, then he shot the woman. In the final note, sent about 15 minutes before reaching Robb Elementary School, he said he was going to shoot an elementary school, according to Abbott. Investigators said Ramos did not specify which school.

Ramos sent private, one-to-one text messages through Facebook, and they were “discovered after the terrible tragedy,” company spokesman Andy Stone said. He said Facebook is cooperating with investigators.

As details emerged of the recent mass murder in the United States, grief gripped Uvalde and its 16,000 residents.

The dead included Eliahna Garcia, an outgoing 10-year-old who enjoyed singing, dancing, and playing basketball; a fellow fourth-grader, Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been eagerly awaiting a summer swim; and a teacher, Eva Mireles, of 17 years of experience, whose husband is an officer with the school district police department.

“You can tell by their angelic smiles that they were loved,” said Hal Harrell, Uvalde Schools Superintendent, fighting back tears as he remembered the children and teachers who were killed. “That they liked coming to school, that they were just valuable individuals.”

Amid calls in the US for tighter gun restrictions, the Republican governor has repeatedly spoken out about mental health issues among young people in Texas, arguing that tougher gun laws in Chicago, New York and California are ineffective.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, interrupted Wednesday’s news conference and called the tragedy “predictable.” He pointed the finger at Abbott and said, “That’s up to you until you decide to do something else. That’s going to continue to happen.” O’Rourke was led out as several in the room yelled at him and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called him a “sick son of a bitch”.

Texas has and has had some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the US in the past five years.

“I just don’t know how people can sell a gun like that to an 18-year-old kid,” said Siria Arizmendi, the aunt of victim Eliahna Garcia, angry through tears. “What will he use it for if not for this purpose?”

Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN that all of those killed were in the same fourth-grade classroom.

The killer “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting at kids and teachers who were in that classroom,” Olivarez said. “It just shows you the full evil of Sagittarius.”

Police and others responding to the attack also went around smashing windows at the school to allow students and teachers to escape. Officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed Ramos in a final exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

The attack in the Latino-dominated city was the deadliest school shooting in the United States since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The tragedy was the latest in a seemingly endless string of mass killings in churches, schools, businesses and other locations across the United States. Just 10 days earlier, 10 black people were shot dead in a racist killing spree at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

In a somber address to the nation hours after the Texas attack, President Joe Biden called on Americans to “stand against the gun lobby” and enact tougher restrictions, saying, “When in God’s name are we going to do what.” to do is done?”

But prospects for reforming the country’s gun laws seemed bleak. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other restrictions have met Republican opposition in Congress.

The shooting happened days before the start of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, which was scheduled to be addressed by the governor of Texas and the state’s two Republican US senators.

On social media, in the days and hours leading up to the massacre, Ramos seemed to hint that something was about to happen.

On the day he bought his second gun last week, an Instagram account that investigators say appeared to belong to Ramos included a photo of two AR-15-style rifles. This post tagged another Instagram user with more than 10,000 followers and asked her to share the picture.

“I hardly know you and you tag me in a picture with some guns,” replied the Instagram user, who has since removed her profile. “It’s just scary.”

On the morning of the attack, the account linked to the shooter replied, “I’m in.”

Instagram confirmed to The Associated Press that it is working with law enforcement to investigate the account, but declined to answer questions about the posts.

Investigators are also looking at an account on TikTok that may belong to the shooter, with a profile that reads, “Kids be scared IRL,” which stands for “in real life.”

Investigators don’t yet know why Ramos targeted the school, said Steve McCraw, director of the Department of Public Safety.

“We don’t see any motive or catalyst right now,” he said.

Officials found one of the guns in Ramos’s truck and the other at the school, according to the statement to lawmakers. Ramos was wearing a tactical vest, but it did not contain hardened body armor panels, lawmakers have been told. He also dropped a backpack containing several magazines full of ammo near the school entrance.

One of the guns was purchased May 17 from a federally licensed dealer in the Uvalde area, according to State Senator John Whitmire, who was briefed by investigators. Ramos bought 375 rounds of ammunition the next day and the second rifle last Friday.

On Tuesday morning, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at her home and then left. Neighbors called police as she staggered outside and they saw she had been shot in the face, Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine said.

Ramos then drove his truck through a railing on school grounds, and an officer from the Uvalde School District shot with him and was wounded, Considine said. Ramos went inside and exchanged more shots with two oncoming Uvalde police officers who were still outside, Considine said. These officers were also wounded.

Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a classroom, said the students were watching the Disney movie Moana when they heard several loud bangs and a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, her teacher saw the attacker striding past the door.

“Oh my god, he’s got a gun!” According to Silva, the teacher screamed twice. “The teacher didn’t even have time to lock the door,” he said.

Volunteers were seen arriving with Bibles and therapy dogs at the city’s civic center on Wednesday morning. Three children and one adult remained at a San Antonio hospital, where two of them – a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl – were listed in serious condition.

Uvalde is about 120 kilometers from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third, and fourth grades, is a one-story brick building in a mostly modest residential neighborhood.

Built around a shaded central plaza, the tight-knit community includes many Hispanic families who have lived there for generations. It is surrounded by fields of cabbage, onions, carrots and other vegetables. But many of the most stable jobs are provided by companies that manufacture building materials.

The attack came as Robb Elementary counted down to the closing days of the school year with a series of themed days. Tuesday was Footloose and Fancy, with students wearing beautiful outfits.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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Nate Jones

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