Texas school massacre: 19 children, 2 adults shot dead; here's all you need to know

Investigators say the suspect was armed with a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines

AgenciesUpdated: Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 11:31 PM IST
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An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022. | (Photo by allison dinner / AFP)

Houston: In one of the worst school shootings in American history, an 18-year-old gunman in body armour massacred at least 21 people, including 19 children and two adults, at an elementary school in Texas state, with an emotional President Joe Biden urging lawmakers to "turn this pain into action" to control the powerful gun lobby.

Among those shot dead by the callous killer, identified as Salvador Ramos, was a 10-year-old girl who was phoning 911 police helpline when he opened fire. The victim’s grandmother said that the youth told the class 'you're going to die' before he began his massacre. The grand-daughter was sitting next to her best friend who was left 'covered in her blood'.

Ramos was eventually stopped by a Border Patrol agent who had been manning a nearby post and rushed into the school. The two exchanged gunfire and Ramos was shot and killed.

Investigators say the suspect was armed with a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines.

The killer was a resident of the area where the school was located. The shooter's motive remains unclear. The Chief of Police said the killer acted as a lone wolf. The teenager is suspected of shooting his grandmother at the start of the rampage.

"He shot and killed horrifically, incomprehensibly,’’ a spokesperson said.

Names of the deceased and other details were yet to be released. The deceased children are in the second, third and fourth grades -- aged between 7 years and 10 years.

US President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting during his return flight from Japan where he attended the Quad Summit.

In a prime-time address on Tuesday, a visibly emotional Biden asked what it would take to convince fellow lawmakers that “it's time to act.”

“How many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — seen their friends die as if they're on a battlefield, for god's sake,” said Biden. “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.”

"Where in God's name is our backbone,’’ Biden demanded, asking lawmakers to stand up to the lobbies. He has ordered the US flag to be flown at half-mast until sunset on Saturday, May 28, in memory of those killed.

In Uvalde, all schools were locked once the gunshots were heard.

There have so far been at least 212 mass shootings in the US in 2022.

Distraught families gathered at a local civic centre and turned to social media to mourn and to make desperate pleas for help finding missing children.

PORTRAIT OF THE KILLER

As the US tries to make sense of the tragedy, stories about Ramos, the gunman, are beginning to emerge from those who knew him best, painting the picture of loner with a propensity for self-harm and violence, who was from an unstable home, including an alleged drug-using mother.

Neighbours and classmates say his behaviour slipped into the bizarre and macabre as he entered his later teenage years, with one friend telling Good Morning America: 'He had scars on his face and someone asked him, 'Are you ok?' and he just said with a smile 'I did it myself, I liked how it looked.' He began dressing in dark clothes and military boots and used his BB gun to target random people, one local claimed.

According to Ramos' neighbour, the shooter and his mother would often have screaming matches, with police being called to the home on multiple occasions. On his since removed Instagram account, Ramos is believed to have shared a photo of two AR15-style rifles just three days before the massacre, while the bio on his TikTok page chillingly read: 'Kids be scared' (in real life)

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