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Texas elementary school gunman posted messages about attack right before shooting, governor said

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the gunman who opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers, said on Facebook just before the shooting that he was going to attack a school. The gunman, identified as an 18-year-old man from the area, was killed by law enforcement, police said. 

Abbott said the gunman wrote three messages on Facebook before the attack: once, about 30 minutes before the school shooting, to say he was going to shoot his grandmother, once to say he had shot his grandmother, and a third time — approximately 15 minutes before the shooting — to say he was going to open fire at an elementary school. 

Facebook said the posts "were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred," and that the company is "closely cooperating with law enforcement."

Authorities said the gunman shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before the school shooting. She contacted police and the suspect fled, later crashing his grandmother's car about a block from the school. He then exited the car and took a backpack and one rifle with him.  

A district police officer engaged the gunman when he arrived at the school, but the shooter was able to enter a back door, travel down two short hallways and enter a classroom, which was connected internally to another classroom, Abbott said. 

The gunman then barricaded himself in the classroom, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department Public Safety told "CBS Mornings."

"At that point, [he] just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom, having no regard for human life," Olivarez said. "Just a complete tragedy. An evil person going into the school and killing children for no reason whatsoever."

Mass Shooting At Elementary School In Uvalde, Texas Leaves At Least 19 Dead
People mourn outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.  BRANDON BELL / Getty Images

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said the gunman purchased two semi-automatic rifles and ammunition at a local sporting goods store, one of which he brought with him into the school. McCraw said the suspect obtained the weapons in March at the press conference, but the Department of Public Safety later confirmed he bought the weapons on May 17 and May 20. 

Olivarez said the officers who first responded to the scene "were at a point of disadvantage" and were not able to make entry. 

"There was no way they were able to make entry, especially with the amount of manpower that was on scene," he said. "So at that point, their primary focus was to evacuate as many children as possible."

A specialized tactical unit made of local, state and federal law enforcement officers were eventually able to enter the classroom, authorities said. Three officers were injured, and all are in good condition, Abbott said. 

McCraw commended the officers who engaged the shooter before the tactical unit entered, saying they saved lives by keeping him "pinned down" at his location. 

"Obviously this is a situation  we failed in the sense that we didn't prevent this mass attack — but I can tell you, those officers that arrived on the scene and put their lives in danger, they saved other kids," he said. "They kept him pinned down, and we're very proud of that."  

Abbott on Wednesday heralded the "amazing courage" of law enforcement, for "running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives." 

He noted that one sheriff's deputy lost a daughter in the shooting. 

"Evil swept across Uvalde yesterday," Abbott said. "Days before yesterday, when these children were in school, some were receiving awards for perfect attendance — these kids will never attend school again." 

Abbott said 17 other people sustained non-life threatening injuries in the shooting. 

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson on deadly school shooting 03:52

Abbott on Tuesday identified the gunman as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. On Wednesday, Abbott said the gunman was reportedly a high school dropout with no criminal history and no documented mental health concerns. Abbott said there was "no meaningful forewarning," other than the Facebook messages. 

Two law enforcement officials told CBS News that the gunman got into a fight with his grandmother on Tuesday morning before the shooting. Preliminary information suggests the fight was over who would pay a cellphone bill. Officials stressed that the information is preliminary and they are investigating it further. 

In response to a question at the press conference Wednesday, Abbott said he did not plan to implement gun restrictions like those in other states, claiming they haven't stopped shootings.

Abbott repeatedly cited mental health, telling reporters that "the ability of an 18-year-old to buy a long gun has been in place in the state of Texas for more than 60 years. And think about during the time, over the course of that 60 years, we have not had episodes like this."

Texas has in fact seen multiple, deadly mass shootings in recent years at schoolschurchesshopping centers and other venues — 244 mass shooting incidents (those with four or more victims) since 2014, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. Nationwide, the FBI reports the number of "active shooter" incidents rose more than 50% in 2021 compared to the year before.

The attack was the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Many, including President Biden, invoked Sandy Hook and the many mass shootings that have followed to call for stronger gun laws. 

"As a nation, we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?" Mr. Biden said in an address from the White House Tuesday night. "When in God's name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?" 

"These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?" the president said. "They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?"

Gunman kills 19 students, 2 adults in elementary school shooting 06:00
 

Trauma surgeon recounts operating on victims: "Sadly, we were prepared"

A trauma surgeon in Texas who operated on children wounded in the Uvalde school shooting said that she and her team mobilized quickly once they were notified about the shooting —and knew how to respond due to their experience with the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017, which left 26 dead.

"Sadly, we were prepared for and thought we would get more patients than we did," Dr. Lillian Liao, the director of pediatric trauma at University Hospital in San Antonio, told CBS News.

Texas trauma surgeon recounts experience in hospital after Robb Elementary School shooting 07:09

Liao said the injuries in children from Tuesday's mass shooting were "high-velocity firearm injuries." Compared to injuries from handguns, she said these weapons have a more destructive impact on the body.

She also noted the damage can be even more severe for children. "When you talk about a child, their body surface area is much smaller than an adult, and so when a projectile hits them at a high velocity, it will create a bigger destruction," she said. 

"You can bleed to death in five minutes."

Read more from the interview here

By Erin Pflaumer
 

Superintendent calls two slain teachers "cornerstone" of the school

The school district's superintendent, Hal Harrell, called the two teachers killed in the shooting a "cornerstone" of the school. 

"They were two beautiful souls," Harrell said. "They have taught at that campus for many years, they have kids in our district, and they poured their heart and soul into what they did in educating our kids in Uvalde." 

Harrell also commended the rest of the school's teachers for their actions during the shooting, calling them "heroes." 

"If it weren't for them — along with the law enforcement that came — that were willing to cradle their kids, get them out of the classroom when it was safe, when they were guided. And the trust our kids in their teachers — that says volumes for our staff here in Uvalde," Harrell said. "They are heroes. They did heroic things yesterday."    

Harrell expressed his sorrow at the loss of the 19 children who, he said, came to school to enjoy one of the final days of the school year. 

"As I look at their pictures, you can just tell by their angelic smiles that they were loved, that they loved coming to school, and they were just precious individuals," he said.   

By Victoria Albert
 

Suspect bought two semi-automatic rifles in May, officials say

During a press conference on Wednesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw provided a detailed timeline of how the gunman obtained weapons before the shooting. 

McCraw originally said the shooter purchased a semi-automatic rifle on March 17 at a local sporting goods store, purchased rounds of ammunition the following day, and bought another semi-automatic rifle at the same store on March 20. The Department of Public Safety later confirmed to CBS News that the shooter actually bought the weapons on May 17 and May 20. 

McCraw said the shooter brought one of the rifles into the school on the day of the shooting. 

 

Gunman had a fight with his grandmother before shooting, sources say

Two law enforcement officials told CBS News that the gunman got into a fight with his grandmother on Tuesday morning before shooting her, taking her car and heading to Robb Elementary School, where he carried out the shooting. 

Preliminary information suggests the fight was over who would pay a cellphone bill. The officials stressed that the information is preliminary and they are investigating it further.

 

NRA expresses "deepest sympathies" for shooting; says it was the result of "lone, deranged criminal"

The National Rifle Association said in a statement Wednesday that the organization's "deepest sympathies" are with the families and victims of the mass shooting. Amid calls for stronger gun legislation in the wake of the attack, the NRA said the shooting was the result of a "lone, deranged criminal."

The organization's annual meeting will be held in Houston, Texas, this weekend. The NRA said it will use that time to "reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure." 

By Victoria Albert
 

Meta spokesperson says posts were "private one-to-one text messages"

Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook's parent company, Meta, said Wednesday that the gunman's posts referenced by the Texas governor were "private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred."

"We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation," he said.

CBS News tech reporter Dan Patterson has more on that aspect of the investigation in the video below.

Gov. Abbott says Texas suspect messaged on Facebook right before shooting 03:25
By Victoria Albert
 

Beto O'Rourke confronts Abbott at press conference

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during his press conference.

Beto O'Rourke interrupts Greg Abbott press conference 06:21

Abbott said he would be passing the microphone to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when O'Rourke stood up. 

"You are doing nothing," O'Rourke said.

One of the officials on stage yelled to O'Rourke, "You are out of line" and said "I can't believe you are a sick son of a b**** and would come here to make a political issue."

Law enforcement officers appeared to escort O'Rourke out of the press conference afterward.

By Caroline Linton
 

Gunman wrote about plan online just before shooting, governor said

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the gunman who opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults, wrote messages on Facebook just before the shooting that he was going to attack a school. 

Special Report: Texas Governor Greg Abbott gives update on Uvalde school shooting 29:37

Abbott said the gunman wrote three times before the attack: once to say he was going to shoot his grandmother, once to say he had shot his grandmother, and a third time — approximately 15 minutes before the shooting — to say he was going to open fire at a school. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Multiple victims still hospitalized

Multiple hospitals in Texas continue to care for victims of the mass shooting, some of whom remain in critical condition. 

The Brooke Army Medical Center said it is caring for two adult patients who are in "serious condition." University Health, in San Antonio, said it is caring for a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl in serious condition, and a 10-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl in good condition. All pediatric patients are with their families, the hospital said. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Shooter bought guns legally after 18th birthday

The man who killed 19 children and two teachers in Texas bought his guns legally days before the attack and soon after his 18th birthday, a law enforcement briefing said.

He bought one AR-style rifle from a federally-licensed gun dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to a state police briefing given to Sen. John Whitmire. The next day, he bought 375 rounds of ammunition, and bought a second rifle on May 20.

Officers recovered one of the rifles from his truck and the other was found in the school, according to the briefing. It said the shooter dropped a backpack with several magazines full of ammunition near the school entrance, and that he was wearing a body-armor style vest but that it had no hardened plates inside.

By Associated Press
 

Biden, lawmakers call for stronger gun laws

The shooting prompted renewed calls for new gun legislation. Speaking in Congress, Senator Chris Murphy, who was formerly a representative from the district that included Sandy Hook Elementary School, begged his colleagues to find some common ground on new legislation. 

"I am here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues," he said. "Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely. I understand my Republican colleagues may not agree to everything I support, but there is a common denominator we can find. There is a place where we can achieve agreement."

Senator Chris Murphy on Texas elementary school shooting, gun safety reform 09:19

President Biden echoed that sentiment in his own statement Tuesday night, noting that "these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world."  

"They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why?" Mr. Biden said. "Why are we willing to live with this carnage?"

"As a nation, we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?" Mr. Biden added. "When in God's name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?" 

"It's time to act": Biden addresses Texas elementary school mass shooting 09:10
By Victoria Albert
 

Parents of other shooting victims speak out: "Families don't need your freaking hearts. They need their kids."

Parents of students killed in other school shootings expressed their anger that another mass shooting had occurred.

"My son Joaquin, my beautiful son Joaquin, my innocent son Joaquin, was shot four times with an AR-15," Manuel Oliver, the parent of a student killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkalnd, Florida, told CBS News' Lana Zak. "And today, we saw an 18-year-old in Texas was able to carry a weapon and kill kids inside their school."

"We've been fighting against this. We were trying to prevent this. We knew that it was going to happen, we just don't know where," he said. 

Father of Parkland victim speaks about Texas school shooting: "I feel very angry" 07:23

"You will hear these politicians sending their thoughts and prayers and some of them will say, 'Our hearts are with the families,'" he added. "Well, guess what? The families don't need your freaking hearts. They need their kids. And their kids are not there anymore." 

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was also killed in the Parkland shooting, is calling for stricter gun laws. He told CBS News' Anne-Marie Green on Wednesday, "I feel broken for all of the families who have lived with gun violence and for families that now join them. I have had enough."

Parkland victim's dad on Texas shooting: "I feel broken for all the families" 11:00
By Victoria Albert
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