What we know about the gunman and victims of the Uvalde shooting
SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:
We begin this hour in Uvalde, Texas, where we're learning more about what happened yesterday at Robb Elementary School, where 19 children were killed along with two adults. Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke at a press conference earlier today.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
GREG ABBOTT: Our job is to ensure that the community is not going to be ripped apart. All Texans must come together and support the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.
PFEIFFER: Paul Flahive with Texas Public Radio is in Uvalde and was at that press conference. Paul, thank you for taking time to share your reporting with us today.
PAUL FLAHIVE, BYLINE: Thank you.
PFEIFFER: What more did you learn today about how this attack unfolded?
FLAHIVE: Well, the press conference was at Uvalde High School, where 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos would have been a senior. It was reported he dropped out. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Ramos shot his grandmother in the face, and then she called the police. The two lived together only a couple of blocks from the school.
Authorities say Ramos fled and crashed the pickup truck he was driving in a ditch outside the school. The Texas Department of Public Safety director said Ramos was not being chased by law enforcement. Ramos made it past a campus resource officer who had engaged him but did not fire a weapon. And the shooter was able to enter the school through a back door, into the school and into a classroom. And then he began shooting.
Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement found the classroom after waiting 40 minutes. They breached the room, and a Border Patrol agent killed him. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and still ongoing. Authorities say they believe all the children were killed by Ramos.
PFEIFFER: And what else do we know about this gunman?
FLAHIVE: Authorities confirmed that his name is Salvador Ramos. We learned that he was a quiet kid, according to a couple of students that I spoke to outside the high school today. While Uvalde is the kind of place where people know everyone, they just sort of knew him as another classmate, one who at times was bullied for his speech impediment. Abbott said Ramos didn't have a mental health diagnosis, didn't have an adult criminal record, and it wasn't clear if he had run across the juvenile system.
PFEIFFER: Is anything known yet for why he did this - a reason?
FLAHIVE: The Texas Department of Public Safety said they don't know of a motive. Governor Abbott says Ramos didn't show outward signs until about 30 minutes before the shooting, when he says Ramos posted on Facebook. Since then, we've learned that Facebook says Ramos sent private messages and didn't post publicly. Abbott said Ramos first communicated, quote, "I'm going to shoot my grandmother"; then, I shot my grandmother. And then 15 minutes before he arrived at the school, Abbott said Ramos communicated he'd shoot elementary school.
PFEIFFER: Do we know much about the weapons he used?
FLAHIVE: Ramos purchased two AR-15s shortly after his 18th birthday in March. He abandoned one in the truck after crashing and used one in Robb Elementary. In response to a question about whether 18-year-olds should have access to weapons like the one used in the shooting - here, we can listen to what the governor said.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
ABBOTT: 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. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge, period.
FLAHIVE: Abbott focused a lot on the importance of mental health and providing mental health care to the community, committing to ensuring Uvalde has access to mental health care it needs now. But we should point out that he said earlier in the news conference that the gunman himself did not have a history of mental illness that they're aware of. But it is worth noting that Texas ranks last in access to mental health personnel with all the states. It's especially bad for youth and in rural areas.
PFEIFFER: That is Paul Flahive of Texas Public Radio telling us the latest details on what we've learned about the shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children were killed along with two adults. Paul, thank you again for sharing your reporting.
FLAHIVE: Thank you.
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