ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Deadliest U.S. school killing in nearly a decade prompts Biden call for action

Authorities said Salvador Ramos, 18, on Tuesday shot his grandmother, who survived, before fleeing and crashing his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killing at least 21 people before being killed, apparently shot by police.

Shooting at a Texas elementary school, in Uvalde
People react outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center, where students had been transported from Robb Elementary School after a shooting, in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.
MARCO BELLO/REUTERS
We are part of The Trust Project.

UVALDE, Texas — A gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting for nearly a decade, prompting President Joe Biden to urge Americans to confront the country's gun lobby and pressure Congress to tighten gun laws.

Authorities said Salvador Ramos, 18, on Tuesday shot his grandmother, who survived, before fleeing and crashing his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killing at least 21 people before being killed, apparently shot by police.

Officers saw the gunman, clad in body armor, emerge from the crashed vehicle carrying a rifle. They said he acted alone; the motive was unclear.

In a televised speech Biden, his voice rising to a crescendo, said: "As a nation, we have to ask when in God's name we're going to stand up to the gun lobby, when in God's name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done."

A Democrat, Biden accused the gun lobby of blocking enactment of tougher firearm safety laws. He ordered flags flown at half-staff daily until sunset on Saturday in observance of the tragedy.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I am sick and tired of it. We have to act," he said without going into specifics.

U.S. President Joe Biden makes a statement about the school shooting in Uvalde
U.S. President Joe Biden reacts as he makes a statement about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas shortly after Biden returned to Washington from his trip to South Korea and Japan, at the White House in Washington, on May 24, 2022.
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Mass shootings have frequently led to public protests and calls for stricter background checks on gun sales and other firearm controls common in other countries, but such measures repeatedly fail in the face of strong Republican-led opposition.

The school houses second, third and fourth grade children, meaning pupils would likely have ranged in age from 7 to 10.

"My heart is broken today," school district superintendent Hal Harrell told reporters late in the day, his voice quaking with emotion. "We’re a small community and we need your prayers to get us through this."

The community, deep in the state's Hill Country region about 80 miles west of San Antonio, has about 16,000 residents, nearly 80% of them Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data.

Hours after the shooting, police had cordoned off the school with yellow tape. Police cruisers and emergency vehicles were scattered around the perimeter of the school grounds. Uniformed personnel stood in small clusters, some in camouflage carrying semi-automatic weapons.

Shooting at a Texas elementary school, in Uvalde
A child looks on through a glass window from inside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center, where students had been transported from Robb Elementary School after a shooting, in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.
MARCO BELLO/REUTERS

DEADLIEST SINCE 2012

The rampage was the latest in a series of mass school shootings that periodically reignite a fierce debate between advocates of tighter gun controls and those who oppose any legislation that could compromise the right of Americans to bear arms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was the deadliest school shooting since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.

Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a leading advocate for legislation to restrict the proliferation of guns, told reporters: "I just don't understand why people here think we're powerless."

"There's just not a coincidence that we're the high-income-world's deadliest nation and we have the loosest gun laws. You know, guns flow in this country like water. And that's why we have mass shooting after mass shooting," he said.

Firearms became the leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents starting in 2020, surpassing motor vehicle accidents, according to a University of Michigan research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month.

Tuesday's horrors were reflected on the Facebook page of Robb Elementary School, where posts earlier this week showed the usual student activities — a field trip to the zoo and a save-the-date reminder for a gifted-and-talented showcase.

On Tuesday, a note was posted at 11:43 a.m.: "Please know at this time Robb Elementary is under a Lockdown Status due to gunshots in the area. The students and staff are safe in the building."

A second post said: "There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site."

Finally, a note was posted advising parents they could meet their children at the civic center.

ADVERTISEMENT

(Reporting by Marco Bello in Uvalde, Texas; additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Dan Whitcomb and Costas Pitas in Los Angeles, Maria Caspani and Tyler Clifford in New York, Daniel Trotta in San Diego, Katie Paul in San Francisco, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., and Caitlin Webber and Kanishka Singh in Washington; editing by Howard Goller and Alistair Bell.)

Shooting reported near elementary school in Uvalde, Texas
Children get on a school bus as law enforcement personnel guard the scene of the shooting near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.
Marco Bello / Reuters file photo

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: SHOOTINGSGUNSEDUCATION
What to read next
Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and daughter Ivanka Trump had fought unsuccessfully to avoid appearing for testimony in state Attorney General Letitia James's probe into whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values to obtain favorable loans and understated asset values to get tax breaks.
The unprecedented search marked a significant escalation of the federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he was leaving office in January 2021. Trump continues to publicly flirt with running again for president in 2024 but has not said clearly whether he will do so.
The investigation comes after the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in February notified Congress that it had recovered about 15 boxes of White House documents from Trump's Florida home, some of which contained classified materials.
There are several things to watch in the House and Senate races in Minnesota. Here’s a rundown.