Yesterday, just before midday, 19 children and two teachers were killed within a single classroom in Robb Elementary School in rural Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman had barricaded himself behind a locked door and opened fire.
The gunman was inside the school for about an hour before a tactical unit from the US Border Patrol broke into the classroom and shot him dead.
He was identified as Salvador Ramos, who was born in North Dakota, grew up in Uvalde, and had dropped out of Uvalde High School in the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. The town is home to about 16,000 people. Ramos had legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles several days before the massacre, just after his 18th birthday.
Ramos was living with his grandmother, whom he allegedly shot in the face just before driving her truck into a ditch near Robb Elementary and opening fire inside the school. He had allegedly written warnings on social media to say he was planning to kill elementary students.
President Joe Biden has ordered US flags to be flown at half-mast until Saturday, and the district cancelled all remaining days this school year, which was scheduled to end Thursday. Graduation ceremonies at the high school were postponed “out of the deepest respect for the families and our community affected by the tragedy we have experienced,” the district said on its website.
“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 a speech. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
Admitting the political reality that Congress isn’t likely to pass stricter gun-control laws, former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a few years ago that it might be more prudent to focus the debate on gun “safety,” not gun “control.”
A prayer vigil was held Wednesday evening for the victims, and a special memorial fund has been established at a local bank.
Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, said during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican that he was “praying for the children and adults who were killed, and for their families. It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms.”
- An age-by-age guide about talking to kids about mass shootings