15 killed in Texas school shooting; dead gunman

By EUGENE GARCIA and DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, killing 14 children and a teacher and injuring others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the shooter was dead .

It is the deadliest shooting at a US elementary school since the shocking attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut nearly a decade ago. And it came just 10 days after a gunman in a body armor killed 10 black shoppers and employees at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racist attack.

The shooter entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Abbott said. Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but the governor identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the heavily Latino community about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.

Abbott said the shooter was likely killed by police, but the events are still under investigation. School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo said the attacker acted alone.

The massacre of young children was another horrifying moment for a country marked by an almost relentless series of massacres in churches, schools and shops.

The Uvalde gunman “shot and killed, in a gruesome and incomprehensible manner, 14 students and killed a teacher”, the governor said, adding that two officers were also injured but survived.

“Pray for the lost, their families and Uvalde,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a tweet.

It was not immediately clear how many people, besides the dead, had been injured, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries”. Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children had been taken there. Another hospital reported that a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.

Robb Elementary School has just under 600 students, and Arredondo said it serves second, third and fourth graders. He did not provide the ages of the children who were shot.

A heavy police presence surrounded the school on Tuesday afternoon, with officers wearing heavy vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden was briefed on the Air Force One shooting while returning from a five-day trip to Asia. Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech Tuesday night at the White House.

Uvalde is home to approximately 16,000 people and is the seat of Uvalde County government. The city is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential area of ​​modest homes.

A Border Patrol agent who was among the first law enforcement officers on the scene was shot and wounded by the shooter, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press undercover anonymity as the investigation was ongoing. The officer was hospitalized in good condition, the official said.

The Uvalde tragedy was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally of mass shootings in the state that were among the deadliest in the United States in 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 church in Texas killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.

The shooting took place days before the start of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston. Abbott and the two U.S. senators from Texas were among Republican lawmakers who were scheduled speakers at a leadership forum on Friday sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has had its ups and downs. Efforts by lawmakers to meaningfully change U.S. gun policies have consistently faced obstacles from Republicans and influence from outside groups such as the NRA.

One year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the country’s background check system. But as the measure was about to go to the Senate for a vote, it became clear that it would not get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who made gun control a central goal of his administration after the Newtown shootings, called Congress’s failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.” .

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on gun purchases. A bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the review period for the background check. The two languished in the Senate 50-50, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster’s objections.

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Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas, Ben Fox in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.

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