An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children, officials said, and the gunman was dead.
The death toll also included two teachers, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said he was briefed by state police on the fatalities. Sen. Gutierrez said the gunman bought assault rifles when he turned 18.
Federal law enforcement officials said the death toll was expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release investigative details.
It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunmen killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago. And it came just 10 days after a gunman in body armor killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racist attack.
The attack happened at Robb Elementary School in the city of Uvalde, around 80 miles west of San Antonio.
The gunman, Salvador Ramos, who was also killed, went into the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, according to state Sen. Roland Gutierrez
. He noted that the gunman “suggested the kids should watch out,” and that he had bought two “assault weapons” after turning 18.
US President Joe Biden has described the shooting as “another massacre” and that it is “time to act” as he addressed the nation following the shooting.
“How many scores of school children must see friends die like they’re on a battlefield,” he added.
He said the “idea that an 18-year-old kid can buy assault weapons is wrong”.
A 10-year-old girl and a 66-year-old woman are in critical condition, University Hospital in San Antonio said on Twitter.
Governor Greg Abbott said two police officers were hit while exchanging gunfire with the suspect and sustained “non-life-threatening injuries”.
Law enforcement officials are investigating whether the suspect’s grandmother was shot after reports he shot her before entering the school.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who represented the Connecticut congressional district at the time of the Sandy Hook shooting, has implored his colleagues to act on gun violence after the shooting.
He said: “What are we doing? There were more mass shootings than days in the year. Our kids are living in fear.
“I’m here on this floor to beg to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here”.
In a statement, the President ordered US flags be flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings “as a mark of respect for the victims” until sunset on 28 May.
The chief of police for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, Pete Arrendondo, confirmed the suspect acted alone and that police are not looking for any other suspects.
Addressing the nation earlier on Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said “our hearts keep getting broken”, adding that “enough is enough”.
The school, in a mostly residential neighbourhood of modest homes, has just under 600 students aged from five to 11.
All schools in the local district were locked down earlier because of gunshots in the area, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said.
The shooting came 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.
Robb Elementary School is the deadliest shooting at a US grade school since the shocking attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
Dozens of police officers were at the school on Tuesday afternoon, with officers in heavy vests diverting traffic and FBI agents coming and going from the building.
Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people.