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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Gunman kills 19 children in Texas school vandalism

By Acacia Coronado and Jim Vertuno

UVALDE, Texas ( Associated Press) – An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, killing at least 19 children on his way from classroom to classroom, officials said, the most in nearly a decade. The latest gruesome moment in a deadly school shooting and for a country scorched by a string of carnage. The attacker was shot dead by law enforcement.

Officials said two adults were also among the dead. Governor Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.

The attack at Rob’s Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting in an American grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.

Hours after the attack, the families were still waiting to talk to their children.

Outside the town civic centre, where families were asked to gather, the silence broke with screams and shouts. “no please do not!” One man shouted as he hugged another man.

“My heart is broken today,” said school district superintendent Hal Harrell, announcing that all school activities have been canceled for the time being. “We are a small community, and we will need your prayers to get through this.”

The attack also came just 10 days after a deadly, racist stampede at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, added to a years-long series of mass killings in churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform in the nation’s gun regulations seemed dim, if not dim, in comparison to the aftermath of Sandy Hook’s death.

But President Joe Biden appeared ready for battle, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.

“As a nation we have to ask, when are we going to stand in front of the gun lobby in the name of God? When in the name of God are we going to do what we have to do?” Biden asked. “Why are we willing to live with this massacre?”

Many of the injured were taken to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where relatives of the scrubbed and devastated victims can be seen crying as they leave the premises.

Officials did not immediately disclose a motive, but they did identify the attacker as Salvador Ramos, who lived about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Law enforcement officials said he acted alone.

Ramos had hinted on social media that the attack might have taken place, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he was informed by state police. He said the gunman “suggested children to be careful.”

Gutierrez said that before leaving for school, Ramon killed his grandmother with two military-style rifles he had bought on her birthday.

“He did this first thing on his 18th birthday,” he said.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine, the attack began around 11:30 a.m., when the gunman rammed his car outside the school and fled into the building. A resident who heard the accident called 911, and two local police officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter.

Both officers were shot, although it was not immediately clear where on the premises the confrontation occurred, or how much time elapsed before more officers arrived at the scene.

Meanwhile, teams of Border Patrol agents rushed to the school, consisting of 10 to 15 members of tactical and counter-terrorism units such as SWAT, said Jason Owens, a top Border Patrol regional official.

A Border Patrol agent, who was working nearby when the shooting began, broke into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, according to a law enforcement official. because he was not authorized. talk about it.

The law enforcement source said the agent was injured but was able to get out of the school.

Owens confirmed that an agent suffered minor injuries, but would not give details of that confrontation.

He said that some field agents have children in Rob Elementary.

“We have Border Patrol kids who go to this school. It hit home for everyone,” he said.

It was not immediately clear how many people were injured, but Uvalde police chief Pete Arredondo said there were “multiple injuries”. Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said that 13 children were taken there. Another hospital said the condition of a 66-year-old woman was critical.

Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves students in the second, third and fourth grades. He did not specify the age of the children who shot him. It was the last week of school classes before the summer break.

Uvalde, home to about 16,000 people, is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Rob’s Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.

The Uvalde tragedy was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a dire situation in the state, which has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in America over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman shot and killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year earlier, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman killed 23 people in a racist attack at a Walmart in El Paso.

The shooting took place a few days before the start of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston. Both Abbott and the US senator from Texas were among elected Republican officials as scheduled speakers at Friday’s leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has intensified and subsided. Attempts by lawmakers to change American gun policies in any significant way have consistently faced obstacles from Republicans and influence from outside groups such as the NRA.

A year after Sandy Hook, West Virginia Democrat Sens Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Tommy negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the country’s background check system. But the measure failed in a Senate vote, without enough support to clear the 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called the Congress’s failure “a very shameful day for Washington.”

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. A bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. Another would have extended the background check review period. Both ended up 50-50 in the Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to clear objections from a filibuster.


Eugene Garcia and Dario Lopez-Mills in Uvalde, Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox in Washington, Paul J. Weber, Juan Lozano in Houston and Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report.


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

World Nation News Desk
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