Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the suspect, an 18-year-old man who resided in Uvalde, was also dead and was likely killed by officers who responded to the scene. The suspect has been identified as Salvador Ramos, according to state police.
Erik Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN on Tuesday night that the shooter crashed his car near the school, got out with a gun and was wearing a bulletproof vest. School district officers engaged the suspect, but he was able to enter the school and went from class to class firing his gun.
The shooter also shot his grandmother before heading towards the school with two military-style rifles. He had bought the guns on his 18th birthday, State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, told the network. He also said three people hospitalized in the attack were in serious condition.
The grandmother is also in critical condition, Estrada said, and several others have been injured. He said some of the families of the victims had been notified, although he was unsure whether all the appropriate notifications had been made. Around 9 p.m. local time, some parents were still looking for their children while others were having their DNA taken to help law enforcement identify the victims, according to local news. Estrada could not confirm this information.
Details of Tuesday’s attack began circulating as President Joe Biden was en route to the United States after his overseas trip to Asia. He was briefed on the incident, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday, and spoke with Abbott aboard Air Force One to offer his assistance.
After arriving at the White House on Tuesday evening, the president delivered a raw and moving speech prime time address in the Roosevelt room. He spoke of the deep grief of losing a child, something he knows all too well.
“Losing a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped out,” Biden said. “There’s a hollow in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it and you can never get out. Suffocating.
He noted the number of days — 3,448 — since he addressed the Sandy Hook shooting as vice president. In the speech, Biden asked what it would take for lawmakers to act.
“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?
Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the tragedy at an event Tuesday night, repeatedly saying “enough is enough.”
“At a time like this, we would all naturally say our hearts are breaking, but our hearts keep breaking,” she said, noting the number of elected leaders in the room. “You know what I’m talking about. Every time we’ve had a tragedy like this, our hearts break and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of these families. And it just keeps happening. … Too c “It’s too much. As a nation, we need to have the courage to take action and understand the connection between what makes reasonable and sensible public policy. To make sure something like this never happens again.”
Speaking in the US Senate shortly after the first toll was announced, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) challenged Americans to act, citing the massacre in his own state at Sandy Elementary School. Hook in December 2012.
“What do we do?” Murphy said. “Just days after a gunman entered a grocery store to gun down African American customers, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands.
“It’s not inevitable. These children were not unlucky. It only happens in this country,” Murphy said. “And nowhere, nowhere else do little children go to school thinking they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their children, as I had to do it, of why they were locked in a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes in case a bad guy enters this building This doesn’t happen anywhere else except here in the States “United of America. And it’s a choice. It’s our choice to let it continue.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, tweeted a similar message: “Another shooting. And the GOP won’t do anything about it. Who the hell are we if we can’t keep our kids safe. This is avoidable. Our inaction is a choice.
A little after noon local time, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said there was an “active shooter” at Robb Elementary School and “law enforcement is on scene.” The Facebook post asked parents and other visitors not to come to campus at this time.
Just under 600 students were enrolled at the elementary school in the heavily Latino community, and the last day of the school year was set for Thursday. Robb Elementary School serves second, third, and fourth graders.
A message on the school’s website Tuesday afternoon asked parents not to pick up their children at this time. The students were taken to the city’s civil center for reunification.
“Students must be considered before they are entrusted to your care. You will be notified to pick up students once all are accounted for,” the message read.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting local and state authorities with the ongoing investigation.
Gun safety advocates and Democrats on Tuesday highlighted years of legislative inaction since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left 20 children and six adults dead. Biden, as vice president at the time, led White House efforts to push a sweeping gun control bill through Congress, only to see it fail.
Shootings have continued and congressional efforts to pass legislation to reduce gun violence have failed countless times, even as new tragedies prompt members to make new pledges to change gun policies . From murders at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, to a high school in Parkland, Florida, the country has seen more than 3,500 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.
When speaking in Buffalo last week, Biden called on lawmakers to pass legislation to “keep assault weapons off our streets.”
It was not immediately clear how much the shooting would affect the National Rifle Association convention, scheduled for this weekend in Houston. A spokesperson for a scheduled speaker at the event, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), said lawmakers had already informed the gun group that they would not be attending.
“Before today’s tragedy in Uvalde, we had already informed the NRA that he would not be able to speak due to [an] unexpected change in his schedule,” Cornyn spokesman Drew Brandewie said. “He must now be in DC for personal reasons on Friday.”
Juan Perez and Burgess Everett contributed to this report, which also includes material from The Associated Press.