At least 21 dead after shooting at Texas elementary school: officials

WATCH: Death toll rises to at least 21 as investigation into gunman continues

Nineteen students and three adults were killed Tuesday during a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, authorities say. The shooter has also died.

The latest figures come from Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety and authorities offered no names or descriptions of the two adults.

The shooting took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a heavily Latino community.

Three people wounded in the attack are hospitalized in serious condition, Sen. Roland Gutierrez told The Associated Press, noting he was briefed by state police.

The gunman, who was wearing body armor and had hinted on social media of an upcoming attack, crashed his car outside the school and went inside armed, Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN.

He also killed his grandmother before heading to the school with two military-style rifles he had purchased on his birthday, Gutierrez said.

“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” he said.

texas shooting

People leave the Uvalde Civic Center following a shooting earlier in the day at Robb Elementary School, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

(William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Responding officers reportedly killed the shooter, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, noting two officers were shot but have no serious injuries.

The suspect is said to be a student at Uvalde High School and is a U.S. citizen, Abbott added.

Uvalde’s district chief of police Pedro “Pete” Arredondo confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that the suspect is dead, noting they are believed to have acted alone during the “heinous” crime.

Arredondo called the shooting a mass casualty incident and said families are being notified.

According to the Uvalde Memorial Hospital (UMH), 13 children were transferred to the facility for treatment after an active shooter was reported.

Two children were also transferred to San Antonio, about 135 kilometres east of Uvalde.

texas shooting

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Two of the individuals who arrived at UMH were deceased, the hospital said in an update online.

“Please refrain from coming to the hospital at this time,” the update read.

Another Hospital, University Health, said it received two patients from the shooting — one child and one adult, a 66-year-old woman in critical condition.

Robb Elementary School has just 575 students in Grades 2 to 4.

Earlier, the district said that all schools in the district were locked down because of gunshots in the area.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas is travelling back to the state as soon as he can get there.

“My heart goes out to those in the hospital receiving care and to the loved ones of those who lost their lives,” he said on Twitter. “As a parent, I cannot imagine the pain they must be feeling.”

The district said that the city’s civic center will be used as a reunification center and that parents will be able to pick up their children there once everyone is accounted for.

Following the shooting, South Texas Blood and Tissue announced they will hold an emergency blood drive on May 25.

“Our hearts are with the Uvalde community,” the centre said in a post online.

Following the shooting, some schools including Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland announced they will have an additional police presence near facilities on Wednesday.

After returning to the White House after a five-day trip to Asia, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the nation following the shooting.

“I’d hoped when I became president I would not have to do this again. As a nation we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said. “The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.”

“What struck me is these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” he added. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? It’s time to turn this pain into action.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke on the incident, Tuesday saying, “We have to have the courage to take action … to ensure something like this never happens again.”

Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary has been briefed on the incident, the department said online.

United States Customs and Border Protection “immediately responded to the scene to provide support, including medical aid.”

The town is about 120 kilometres from the border with Mexico.

At least one Border Patrol Agent was wounded by the shooter during an exchange of gunfire, according to Marsha Espinosa, assistant secretary of public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security.

“Upon entering the building, agents and other law enforcement officers faced gunfire from the subject, who was barricaded inside,” she said online, adding both agents and officers put themselves between the shooter and the children on the scene to “draw the shooter’s attention away from potential victims and save lives.”

On-and-off duty agents were also on scene to assist with transferring students safely to their families and providing medical support.

On Tuesday, U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Nancy Pelosi said “words are inadequate to describe the agony and outrage at the cold-blooded massacre of the little schoolchildren and a teacher at Robb Elementary School today. This monstrous shooting stole the futures of precious children, who will never experience the joys of graduating from school, chasing the career of their dreams, falling in love, even starting a family of their own.”

The shooting is the deadliest in Texas since May 18, 2018, when a gunman killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School.

It also comes 10 days after an 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people and wounded three more at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, N.Y. The gunman had posted online that the shooting was racially motivated.

Read more:

Buffalo mass shooting exposes ‘blind spots’ over white terrorism: expert

That shooting reanimated the debate around gun control in the United States, with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul pushing new bills to further restrict people deemed dangerous from accessing firearms.

“Across the nation, Americans are filled with righteous fury in the wake of multiple incomprehensible mass shootings in the span of just days. This a crisis of existential proportions — for our children and for every American.  For too long, some in Congress have offered hollow words after these shootings while opposing all efforts to save lives.  It is time for all in Congress to heed the will of the American people and join in enacting the House-passed bipartisan, commonsense, life-saving legislation into law,” house speaker, Pelosi, said Tuesday.

Texas, meanwhile, has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country. Abbott, a Republican, signed a law last year allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license or training.

In the wake of the 2018 Santa Fe High shooting, Texas lawmakers focused instead on improving school safety, including mandatory emergency training for all school employees and improved mental health care for students.

The law, which passed in 2019, also required school districts to create “threat assessment teams” for every campus as well as “bleeding control stations,” which are essentially battlefield tourniquet kits in schools.

Robb Elementary has a two-page list of preventative safety measures, including a threat assessment team, multiple on-campus police officers, security cameras and metal detectors.

“Only in America do people go grocery shopping and get mowed down by a shooter with hate in his heart; only in this country are parents not assured that their kids will be safe at school,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a Tuesday press release.

“We have made a choice to let this continue, and we can make a choice to finally do something — do anything — to put a stop to this madness.”

Biden has called on Congress to pass meaningful gun control legislation in the wake of past mass shootings, but action on any restrictions has been routinely blocked by Republicans.

Asked about the push for regulations last week, after he gave a speech condemning the white supremacist ideologies behind the Buffalo shooting, Biden admitted, “It’s going to be very difficult … I’m not going to give up trying.”

Since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, more than 300,000 children have experienced shootings at 320 schools, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.

Those shootings have led to the deaths of at least 163 children, educators and other people.

The U.S. government does not keep track of school shooting events, leaving most tallies to be done by independent advocacy groups and media reports.

texas shooting

A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center, Tuesday May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing multiple children and a teacher and wounding others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead.

(William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

The shooting also came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

With files from the Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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