Minutes before school attack, Texas gunman posted online warning

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UVALDE, Texas, May 25 (Reuters) – The Texas gunman who murdered 19 children and two teachers posted an online message warning he was going to shoot at an elementary school minutes before his attack, Governor Greg Gregory said on Wednesday. Abbott, as more heartbreaking details of Tuesday’s rampage have emerged.

The shooter, Salvador Ramos, 18, also sent a message on Tuesday saying he was going to shoot his grandmother and another confirming he had, Abbott told a news conference. Ramos’ grandmother, who the suspect shot in the face shortly before attacking the school, survived and called the police.

Ramos gave no warning except online posts. After shooting his grandmother, he fled the home they shared and crashed her car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 130 miles west of San Antonio.

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A school policeman approached him outside the building, officials said, but no shots were exchanged. Authorities provided few additional details about the encounter, which is likely to become the subject of investigations, except that the suspect dropped a bag full of ammunition on the floor and ran towards the school when he saw the officer.

Ramos then entered the school through a back door carrying an AR-15 type rifle and fought his way down two hallways to a fourth grade classroom where he shot all those killed. Authorities said he had legally purchased two rifles and 375 rounds days before the shooting.

Meanwhile, police surrounded the building, smashing windows to help children and staff escape. U.S. Border Patrol agents also responded and entered the building to confront the shooter, with one officer injured “in the crossfire,” the Department of Homeland Security said on Twitter.

Eventually, Ramos, a high school dropout with no known criminal record or history of mental illness, was shot dead by law enforcement.

Abbott said 17 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including “several children” who survived the gunfire in their classroom, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Chris Olivarez.

The messages were posted on Facebook, the governor said, but spokespersons for Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms said they were private one-on-one messages discovered after the shooting. The company declined to say who received the messages or which of Meta’s platforms, such as Messenger or Instagram, was used to send them.

GUN CONTROL DEBATE

Investigators have not publicly identified a motive for what is now believed to be the deadliest shooting at a US school in nearly a decade. Ten days earlier, an avowed white supremacist gunned down 13 people at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, reigniting a national debate over US gun laws.

In a sign of the charged political atmosphere, Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate challenging Abbott in the November election, interrupted the press conference to confront Abbott about the state’s permissive gun laws, shouting “You do nothing!” Read more

Several officials gathered on stage around the governor shouted at O’Rourke. “You are a sick son of a bitch who would make a deal like this to make a political issue,” one said, unclear who.

O’Rourke was escorted out of the building and spoke to reporters outside. He said it was “insane” that an 18-year-old was legally allowed to acquire a semi-automatic rifle and had vowed to continue gun restrictions.

“We can achieve this if we had a governor who cared more about the people of Texas than his own political career or his loyalty to the NRA,” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association, an organization gun rights advocacy. .

Abbott said strict gun laws don’t prevent violence, citing states like New York. He said policy makers should instead focus on mental health treatment and prevention.

In a primetime address Tuesday night, President Joe Biden called for new restrictions on gun safety.

“As a nation we have to ask ourselves when in the name of God we are going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said, his voice rising. Read more

But new legislation seemed unlikely to pass in Washington. Virtually every Republican in Congress opposes gun restrictions, and there’s no indication the massacre would change that position.

White House officials were planning a trip to Texas for Biden, a senior administration official said.

The NRA’s annual meeting begins Friday in Houston, where Republicans including Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and former President Donald Trump are all scheduled to speak.

In a statement, the NRA expressed sympathy for the victims, but said the event would go ahead as planned.

World leaders have expressed shock and grief. Pope Francis said he was “sorry” on Wednesday and called for an end to “blind arms trafficking”. Read more

Director of UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, Catherine Russell, has condemned the epidemic of gun violence in the United States, comparing it to attacks on schools in Afghanistan, Ukraine and South Africa. the West and blaming government leaders for their inaction.

Shootings have become so common in American schools that data shows a gun has been fired almost every day this year on school property, according to the K-School Shooting Database. 12 from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School. Read more

The Texas rampage is the deadliest US school shooting since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.

“I WILL FOREVER MISS YOUR LAUGHTER”

Uvalde, in the heart of the state’s Hill Country region, is home to about 16,000 residents, nearly 80 percent of whom are Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data.

As community members held fundraisers for the victims’ families, some loved ones mourned their loved ones on social media.

“My little love now flies high with the angels above,” Angel Garza, whose daughter, Amerie Jo Garza, was killed wrote on Facebook. “Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them.”

The two staff members killed were identified as Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, fourth-grade teachers who were trapped in the classroom with their students when the shooting began. Read more

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Reporting by Brad Brooks and Gabriella Borter in Uvalde, Texas; Additional reporting by Maria Caspani and Tyler Clifford in New York, Doina Chiacu, Kanishka Singh, Caitlin Webber, Ted Hesson and Katharine Jackson in Washington, Katie Paul in Palo Alto, California, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Written by Joseph Axe; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Grant McCool and Diane Craft

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