By EUGENE GARCIA and DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS
UVALDE, Texas (AP) — An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing 14 children, one teacher and injuring others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead.
It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since the shocking attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
The gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Abbott said. Officials have not revealed a motive for the shooting, but Abbott identified him as Salvador Ramos and said he was a resident of the community that’s about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
Abbott said the shooter was likely killed by responding officers but that the events were still being investigated. Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief of Police Pete Arredondo said at a news conference that the gunman acted alone.
It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. It occurred four years after a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area and less than two weeks after a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 Black shoppers and workers in what officials have described as a hate crime.
”He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” said the governor, adding that two officers were shot and wounded but were expected to survive.
It was not immediately clear how many people, in addition to the dead, were wounded, but Arredondo said there were “several injuries.” Earlier, Uvalde Memorial Hospital said 13 children were taken there. Another hospital reported a 66-year-old woman was in critical condition.
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 provide the ages of the children who were shot.
A heavy police presence surrounded the school Tuesday afternoon, with officers in heavy vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the school shooting on Air Force One as he returns from a five-day trip to Asia and would continue to receive updates. Jean-Pierre said Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday evening at the White House.
Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uvalde County. The town is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the border with Mexico. Robb Elementary is in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.
A Border Patrol agent who was among the first law enforcement officers on the scene was shot and wounded by the gunman, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The agent is hospitalized in good condition, the official said.
The tragedy in Uvalde added to a grim tally of mass shootings in Texas that have been among the deadliest in the U.S. over the past five years. One year before the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018, 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 at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.
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.