It has been less than a decade since 26 people, most of them children, were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, and barely 10 days since the last major U.S. mass shooting made national news in Buffalo. And now, yet again, the nation faces the senseless deaths of a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. At least 19 children and two adults were killed on Tuesday in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, according to the Associated Press.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified the shooter as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old man who lived in Uvalde. According to Abbott, Ramos entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle. Sgt. Erick Estrada from the Texas Department of Public Safety added that the shooter was wearing body armor.
— CBS Austin (@cbsaustin) May 24, 2022
The shooter drove up to the school — which educates second, third, and fourth graders — at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time, crashing his car in a nearby ditch. He got out of the car with his weapons. “That’s when he attempted to enter the school, where he was engaged by law enforcement. And unfortunately he was able to enter the premises. And then from there, that’s when he entered several classrooms and started shooting,” Estrada told CNN.
Hours after the shooting, some parents were still unable to locate their children. “Help me find my baby,” wrote Jennifer Lugo with three crying emojis as news broke about the shooting. “If anyone hears or sees anything please let me know,” she later added, posting a photo of her daughter, Ellie, smiling in a lilac t-shirt, in a photo taken earlier in the day. “Everyone is telling to check places I can’t leave !!!!! Please HELPPPPP !!!” Ryan Ramirez said he was attempting to locate his daughter. “I called all the hospitals and nothing,” he said in a Facebook post. Speaking to ABC News, Father Brandon Elrod stated he’d been searching for his 10-year-old daughter, MaKenna for hours. “She may not be alive,” he said, holding back tears. “This is just evil,” Rey Chapa, an uncle to one of the school children, told the New York Times “I’m afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed.”
By early evening, one adult victim of the shooting at Robb Elementary had been identified as fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44. “It’s all just hitting me. It’s crazy,” Johnny Delgado, Mireles’ cousin, told Rolling Stone. “She was the most outgoing and generous person, always happy. She’d do anything for all the kids she taught and all my little cousins and nieces and nephews.”
On Tuesday evening, President Joe Biden issued a call for Congress to pass commonsense gun legislation while addressing the nation from the White House upon returning from a trip to Asia. “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” said the president. He added: “It’s the time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen of this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country, it’s time to act. It’s time for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more — we have to do more.” Biden also ordered flags flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings until May 28 “as a mark of respect for the victims” of Tuesday’s shootings.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) laid the groundwork for future votes on two pieces of legislation that would strengthen background checks for gun purchases. The bills passed the House last March, and Tuesday’s move would allow the bills to go straight to the floor for a Senate-wide vote. The effort is unlikely to pass, however, unless Democrats reform the filibuster, a tool Republicans have used to stymie gun control measures in the past.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he supports the legislation but is not willing to amend the filibuster to pass it.
During a press conference on Tuesday evening, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief of Police Pete Arredondo said there is no other suspect in the killing, and that the presumed sole shooter is dead. CISD Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell said that counseling would be available and that the district has canceled school for the rest of the year.
The Newtown Action Alliance, the gun-violence prevention organization that launched after 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, issued a statement saying, “We are devastated. Our hearts are breaking for Robb Elementary & Uvalde families & community. We are angry. These shootings are preventable but those whose stood with the NRA after Sandy Hook nearly 10 years ago did absolutely nothing to prevent these tragedies. We need change.”
A representative for the Uvalde Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
Uvalde CISD issued an alert on Twitter of “an active shooter” at Robb Elementary at around 12:15 p.m. local time. “Law enforcement is on site,” the district said, adding a couple hours later that students were being taken to a nearby civic center to be reunited with their parents.
Uvalde, a town with a majority Latino population and near the border, has had numerous Border Patrol agents participating in the investigation.
The Robb Elementary shooting occurred three days before the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting is scheduled to launch in Houston, Texas. Gov. Abbott is slated to be among the speakers, along with former President Donald Trump, Texas’ two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as Dan Crenshaw, the rep for the state’s second congressional district.
The Uvalde mass shooting comes just 10 days after 10 people were killed in Buffalo at a supermarket, in what authorities said was a racially-motivated incident. The Buffalo killings marked the 198th mass shooting in the U.S. and at that time was the deadliest of 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Updated: May 24, 10:46 p.m. ET
Additional reporting by Ryan Bort and Kara Voght