An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.
The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.
Abbott said a local man opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 85 miles west of San Antonio. It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and occurred four years after a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area.
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.
It was not immediately clear how many people, in addition to the dead, were injured in the shooting. Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
It was not immediately clear how many people, in addition to the dead, were injured in the shooting.
Many of the injured were rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where staff members in scrubs and devastated victims’ relatives could be seen weeping as they walked out of the complex.
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.
Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but the governor identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, Gutierrez said, noting that “he suggested the kids should watch out.”
A Border Patrol agent who was working nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.
The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.
The school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, said that the attacker acted alone.
It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District had said an active shooter was reported at the school, which has an enrollment of just under 600 students. Earlier, the district had said that all schools in the district were locked down because of gunshots in the area.
The district said that the city’s civic center was being used as a reunification center.
A heavy police presence surrounded the school Tuesday afternoon, with officers in heavy vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the school shooting on Air Force One as he returns from a five-day trip to Asia and would continue to receive updates. Jean-Pierre said Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday evening at the White House.
The shooting in Texas came less than two weeks after a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 Black shoppers and workers in what officials have described as a hate crime.
Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uvalde County. The town is about 75 miles (120 kilometres) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighbourhood of modest homes. There is a funeral home across the street from the school.