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Nineteen children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County on Tuesday, making the massacre the deadliest school shooting in Texas’ history.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, told CNN there might be another fatality but authorities have not confirmed it.
“My heart is broken today,” Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said while holding back tears during a press conference Tuesday evening. “We’re a small community and we need your prayers to get through this.”
Gov. Greg Abbott said the shooter was killed. The shooter is believed to have acted alone, said Pete Arredondo, Uvalde CISD chief of police.
“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
Three hospitals in the area are treating those injured in the shooting. Uvalde Memorial Hospital told The Texas Tribune it had received 13 children and one adult from ambulances and buses. Two patients arrived at the hospital dead. Two children have since been transferred to San Antonio for treatment, while a third is pending transfer.
University Health in San Antonio had said it was providing care for two patients connected to the shooting. The 66-year-old woman and the 10-year-old girl were in critical condition when they arrived; their current condition is unknown. The Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio said it had taken in two adults from Uvalde.
Abbott identified the shooter as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident. The man abandoned his vehicle and entered Robb Elementary with a handgun and possibly a rifle, the governor said. The shooting started around 11:32 a.m., Arredondo said.
A Border Patrol agent who was close to the school shot the gunman before waiting for backup, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.
The gunman shot his grandmother before the shooting at the school, Gutierrez told CNN. The grandmother was airlifted to San Antonio and was “still holding on” Tuesday evening, according to information given to Gutierrez by the Texas Rangers.
Robb Elementary teaches second, third and fourth grade students. The school had 535 students in the 2020-2021 school year, most of them Hispanic and considered economically disadvantaged. Uvalde is a relatively small city about 85 miles west of San Antonio. Its population of roughly 15,200 is predominantly Hispanic.
Earlier Tuesday, the Uvalde CISD had placed all campuses under lockdown after gunshots were fired in the area. Harrell said the school will be closed for the remainder of the academic year, though grief counseling will be offered to students.
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district includes Robb Elementary School, wrote on Twitter, “My heart breaks for the city of Uvalde. Pray for our families.” and cited a Bible verse.
The Uvalde shooting is the deadliest at a U.S. grade school since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, according to the Associated Press. The massacre in Uvalde is the eighth mass shooting in a Texas public space since an Army psychiatrist opened fire at Fort Hood Army base in November 2009, killing 13 people in what was later determined to be an act of religious extremism. Five years later in April 2014, another Fort Hood soldier killed three people and wounded a dozen more on the base before he killed himself during a firefight with military police.
Since then, the pace of mass shootings in Texas has increased, along with the list of the dead:
In July 2016, five Dallas police officers were slain by a 25-year-old who targeted officers at a Black Lives Matter protest; the gunman wounded nine other police officers and two civilians before he was killed by a remote-controlled bomb following a standoff with police.
In November 2017, a 26-year-old man opened fire during Sunday morning services at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others. The gunman fled the area when a local man began shooting at him, then fatally shot himself after a vehicle pursuit.
Six months later, in May 2018, a 17-year-old student shot eight students and two teachers to death and injured 13 at Santa Fe High School near Houston. He was arrested about 25 minutes after the shooting began.
In August 2019, a 21-year-old man drove from suburban Dallas to El Paso, posted a racist manifesto, then began shooting people at a Walmart, targeting Latinos. He killed 23 people and injured 25 before leaving the store and surrendering to Texas Rangers nearby.
Later that month, a 36-year-old man went on a shooting rampage in the Midland-Odessa area, leaving seven people dead and 25 wounded. The man, who had been fired from his job that morning, was shot to death by police officers outside an Odessa movie theater.
And over the past decade, state lawmakers have responded to mass shootings in Texas and elsewhere with a host of laws that have prioritized Second Amendment rights and increased Texans’ ability to carry firearms in places where they were previously prohibited.
The 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown spurred a new Texas law the following year that created a school marshal program allowing certain employees to have firearms in Texas schools.
Four years later, lawmakers allowed Texans to openly carry firearms rather than having to conceal them and required public universities to let anyone with the proper license carry concealed weapons in dorms, classrooms and campus buildings.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement Tuesday he was “lifting up in prayer the entire Uvalde community during this devastating time.” He also told reporters that he does not see gun control measures as effective in preventing crime.
Abbott, along with Cruz and former President Donald Trump, is scheduled to talk Friday at the National Rifle Association’s 2022 annual meeting. Politico reported that a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said he wouldn’t attend the meeting, citing an unexpected change in his schedule that occurred before the Uvalde shooting.
Alexa Ura contributed to this story.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.