UVALDE, Texas (AP) — 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 deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and 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.
The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
Hours after the attack, families were still awaiting word on their children.
“My heart is broken today,” said Hal Harrell, the school district superintendent, announcing that all school activities were canceled for the time being. “We’re a small community, and we’re going to need your prayers to get through this.”
Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but they identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Law enforcement officials said he acted alone.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police. He noted that the gunman “suggested the kids should watch out.”
Before heading to the school, Ramon killed his grandmother with two military-style rifles he purchased on his birthday, Gutierrez said.
Biden says ‘we have to act’ after Texas school shooting
An anguished and angry President Joe Biden is calling for new restrictions on firearms after the massacre.
“We have to act,” Biden told the nation Tuesday night from the White House, after years of failure to pass new laws. He spoke after arriving home from a five-day trip to Asia that was bookended by “horrific” mass tragedy.
Just two days before he left on his trip, he met with victims’ families after a hate-motivated shooter killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
Oregon Gov. Brown orders flags to half-staff
Governor Kate Brown ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff through Saturday to honor those killed in the shooting.
“The violent attack in Texas is devastating, and I am heartbroken,” Brown said in a statement. “Dan and I send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the 15 individuals who were killed, and to the entire Uvalde community.
“How many more kids, teachers, shoppers, worshippers, and people going about their everyday lives need to die of gun violence?” Brown continued. “We need Congress to act. We must work together to bring an end to these senseless acts.”
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.