By Joshua Fechter, The Texas Tribune
“Uvalde elementary school shooter chronicled his actions on social media, Gov. Greg Abbott says” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
A gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a South Texas elementary school and shot his grandmother in the face Tuesday spelled out each step of his shooting spree on social media as it unfolded, officials said Wednesday.
About 30 minutes before he entered Robb Elementary School, the gunman — Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident — shared messages through Facebook that he was going to shoot his grandmother, then later confirmed that he had shot her, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Wednesday.
Soon after, he wrote that he planned to shoot an elementary school, Abbott said.
Abbott said the gunman posted the information on Facebook. But Facebook’s parent company Meta, quickly disputed Abbott’s account.
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta, said the messages Abbott described were “private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred,” not public posts. “We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation.”
The company did not reveal who Ramos was texting with.
CNN reported the gunman sent messages to a 15-year-old girl he met online, telling her that he “just shot my grandma in her head” and planned to “shoot up” an elementary school.
On Monday, the shooter told the 15-year-old girl, who lives in Germany, that he had obtained a package of ammunition. When she asked him how he intended to use the ammunition, the gunman said it was a surprise and to “just wait for it,” CNN reported.
After shooting his grandmother, the gunman fled in her truck as she called police, Abbott said. He crashed near the school — about two minutes away from his grandmother’s home. There, Abbott said, police officers employed by the school district “engaged with the gunman” — who was able to enter the school through a back door, entered a classroom and began firing with an AR-15 rifle.
The shooter legally bought two rifles along with 375 rounds of ammunition just after his 18th birthday earlier this month, according to a briefing state Sen. John Whitmire received from state authorities late Tuesday. One of the rifles was left in the truck, according to the briefing.
All 19 children and two teachers killed Tuesday in what became the second-deadliest public school shooting in U.S. history were in the same classroom, a state law enforcement official said Wednesday morning.
The gunman barricaded himself inside a classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” Lt. Chris Olivarez, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson, said in an appearance on “The Today Show.”
Ramos was “able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom and … just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life,” Olivarez said.
Law enforcement officers arriving on the scene could hear gunshots inside the classroom, Olivarez said. Officers tried to enter the school, but the shooter fired on them, hitting some of the officers, Olivarez said. At that point, police officers “began breaking windows around the school” in an attempt to evacuate children, teachers and staff, he said.
Officers were eventually able to force their way into the classroom and kill the shooter, who wore a tactical vest, Olivarez said.
A Border Patrol agent killed Ramos, Abbott said. In addition to the 19 fatalities, 17 people sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, Abbott said.
University Hospital in San Antonio admitted four patients from Uvalde, three children ages 9 and 10 and a 66-year-old woman. The woman and a 10-year-old girl are in serious condition while two girls age 9 and 10 are in good condition, the hospital system tweeted Wednesday morning.
“The reality is as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse,” Abbott said.
Investigators “don’t see a motive or catalyst right now” for the shooting, said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
More details about the shooter have come to light. Ramos had reportedly dropped out of high school, Abbott said, and had no known criminal history or history of mental health conditions.
Ariana Diaz, a senior at Uvalde High School and one of Ramos’ former classmates, described Ramos as a “popular loner” — someone everyone knew and who had friends, but still kept to himself.
Ramos was bullied over his speech impediment, Diaz said, and would occasionally bully others.
Ramos missed a lot of school prior to the pandemic, Diaz said. The teacher in a leadership class they were in together sophomore year often harangued Ramos for his absences, Diaz recalled.
“I feel like right now we’re all just too in shock to like even think about why he could have done this,” Diaz said. “We’re still grieving and it’s difficult to know that he was one of our classmates back in the day and he did this to so many innocent children.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/25/texas-elementary-school-shooting-uvalde/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.