He then exchanged gunfire with a school district security officer, ran inside and fired at two Uvalde police officers outside the building, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine said. All of the law enforcement officers were injured, he said.
Hours later, Considine said authorities weren’t sure if the school officer exchanged fire with Ramos. Law enforcement officials have also issued sometimes conflicting statements about the length of Ramos’ rampage.
After entering the school, Ramos stormed into a classroom and began killing, a law enforcement official said.
He “barricaded himself shutting the door and started shooting at the kids and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Department of Public Safety told CNN. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”
All those killed were in the same classroom, he said.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said it was “about 40 minutes” between Ramos opening fire on the school security officer and when the Border Patrol SWAT team shot him.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said Border Patrol agents had trouble forcing open the classroom door and had to ask a staff member to unlock the classroom with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
Carranza felt that the officers should have entered the school earlier.
“There were more of them, there was only one of him,” he said.
US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz denied that his soldiers were slow to enter the school, CNN reported.
Ortiz said that as soon as officers arrived, “they didn’t hesitate.”
“We responded from various places. I had people both on-duty and off-duty that were in a training environment and they all responded to this location,” Ortiz said.
Uvalde is a mostly Latino town of about 16,000 people about 120 kilometers from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, is a single-story brick structure in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.
Before attacking the school, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at her home. Neighbors called police when he staggered out and saw that he had been shot in the face, Considine said.
Ramos had legally bought the rifle and another like it last week, just after his birthday, authorities said.
Investigators did not shed light on the motive for the attack, which also left at least 17 people injured. Abbott said Ramos, a resident of the small town about 85 miles west of San Antonio, had no known criminal or mental health history.
“Evil swept through Uvalde yesterday,” Abbott said.
About a half hour before the mass shooting, Ramos sent the first of three messages online, Abbott said. Ramos wrote that he was going to shoot his grandmother after he had shot the woman. In the last note, sent about 15 minutes before arriving at Robb Elementary, he said he was going to shoot up an elementary school, according to Abbott. Investigators said Ramos did not specify which school.
Ramos sent the private text messages one by one through Facebook, and they were “discovered after the terrible tragedy,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the company. He said that Facebook is cooperating with investigators.
Pain engulfed Uvalde as details of the latest mass murder to rock the US emerged.
Among the dead were Eliahna Garcia, an outgoing 10-year-old girl who loved to sing, dance and play basketball; a fellow fourth grader, Xavier Javier López, who had been looking forward to a summer of swimming; and a teacher, Eva Mireles, with 17 years of experience whose husband is an officer with the school district’s police department.
“You can tell by their angelic smiles that they were loved,” Uvalde Schools Superintendent Hal Harrell said as he fought back tears as he remembered the children and teachers killed.
Amid calls in the US for tougher restrictions on guns, the Republican governor repeatedly spoke about mental health issues among Texas youth and argued 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, calling the tragedy “predictable.” Pointing a finger at Abbott, he said, “This is up to you until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen.”
O’Rourke was escorted out as some in the room yelled at him. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called O’Rourke a “sick son of a bitch.”
Texas has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation and has been the scene of some of the deadliest shootings in the US in the last five years.
“I just don’t know how people can sell that type of weapon to an 18-year-old boy,” said Syria Arizmendi, the aunt of the victim Eliahna García, angrily through tears. “What are you going to use it for but for that purpose?”
The attack was the deadliest school shooting in the US since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
The Uvalde tragedy was the latest in a seemingly endless wave of mass shootings in the United States in recent years. Just 10 days earlier, 10 black people were shot to death in a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “the Second Amendment is not absolute” and called for new gun limitations in the wake of the massacre.
But the prospects for reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed bleak. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other restrictions have run into Republican opposition in Congress.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association’s annual convention began in Houston, with the governor of Texas and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas scheduled to speak.
Investigators still don’t know why Ramos targeted the school, said McCraw of the Department of Public Safety.
“We don’t see a motive or a catalyst at this point,” he said.
Agents found one of the rifles in Ramos’ truck and the other at the school, according to the report provided to lawmakers. Ramos was wearing a tactical vest, but he did not have hardened armor plates inside, lawmakers were told. He also dropped a backpack containing several magazines full of ammunition near the school entrance.
Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a classroom, said the students were watching the Disney movie. vaiana when they heard several loud bangs and a bullet broke a window. Moments later, his teacher saw the attacker pass the door.
“Oh my God, he has a gun!” the teacher yelled twice, according to Silva. “The teacher didn’t even have time to close the door,” she said.
Three children and one adult remained in a San Antonio hospital, where two of them, a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, were listed in serious condition.
The close-knit community, built around a shaded central plaza, includes many families who have lived there for generations. It sits in the middle of fields of cabbages, onions, carrots and other vegetables.
Residents are united by family and friendship, said Joe Ruiz, a pastor born and raised in Uvalde with children and grandchildren there.
“Everybody knows everybody or is connected to everybody,” Ruiz said.
His cousin’s wife, he said, was one of the teachers killed in the attack.
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