By Kaden Pradhan
London, United Kingdom
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains depictions of violence that some readers may find uncomfortable or triggering.
Twenty-one victims have been confirmed dead following the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX, including nineteen children and two teachers. Eighteen-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire at pupils and staff on May 24th, leading to the third most lethal school shooting in the history of the United States.
After having an altercation with his grandmother, Ramos messaged a friend using his Facebook account that he was planning to kill her; she is now in critical condition. He then messaged again stating what he had done, and subsequently messaged that he intended to attack an elementary school, before stealing his grandmother’s vehicle and using it to drive through a barricade at Robb Elementary.
Carrying a sidearm, an AR-15 assault rifle, several extended magazines, and wearing a bulletproof vest, Ramos went on to open fire at two nearby bystanders and a school police officer, at roughly 11:30 a.m. CDT. More officers responded soon after Ramos went on to enter the school, and, assisted by Border Patrol agents, exchanged fire with the shooter, with one agent injured.
Ramos then entered a classroom, barricaded himself inside, and proceeded to open fire on the children and teachers inside. The school locked down at 11:43, but responding police were unable to enter due to a lack of manpower, instead helping those inside to evacuate via the school’s windows.
Recently, the authorities have admitted that Ramos was barricaded in the classroom for up to an hour before officers were able to obtain a master key that was needed to penetrate the steel door he was concealed behind. The Border Patrol agent who had sustained injuries eventually shot and killed Ramos.
Besides the twenty-one killed, a further seventeen have been injured and several are in the care of University Hospital, San Antonio. The two officers harmed are not in critical condition, and both the FBI and ATF are now aiding local law enforcement in a comprehensive investigation.
Controversy has arisen over the sluggish process of identifying the victims, with some parents forced to wait into the night to be told whether their children had survived, and others asked to provide DNA to assist identification. Commentators also speculate whether police could have acted more effectively, entering the building when encouraged to by spectators, rather than waiting for the hour that it took to obtain the master key.
The entire district has ended the school year early, with parents of pupils in schools across the region requested to pick up their children that afternoon. The school also canceled the graduation ceremony.
New reports have helped uncover more details about the shooter’s life. Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School, had no known psychiatric issues and no criminal record. His motive for attacking Robb Elementary remains unknown. He was occasionally violent, often reacting angrily when bullied for his lisp and stutter. Ramos was not predicted to graduate high school, which some sources have argued was the cause of the argument with his grandmother. His colleagues at a local Wendy’s, where he worked, stated that he was sometimes threatening or abrasive, as well as introverted, but not of particular concern. He sometimes posted images of firearms on his ‘wish-list’ to his Instagram. A friend recounts that, once in a while, Ramos would drive around at night, and fire at passers-by with a BB gun. These violent tendencies seem to have become more pronounced over time.
After the incident, President Joe Biden ordered flags on federal buildings to be flown at half-mast. “As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby … I am sick and tired of it—we have to act,” he stated, his voice raised. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Majority Leader, called for more stringent gun-control policy, supported by Susan Collins (R-ME), who called for the instatement of ‘red flag laws.’ Along with Barack Obama and Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) condemned the attack, offering his thoughts and prayers, but also added that some politicians might use the shooting as an excuse to advocate for more severe gun-control rules, causing an uproar on social media. Sen. Cruz receives large quantities of money from gun activists, and is speaking at an upcoming NRA meeting.
A former Texas gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke, challenged Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) during a press conference, stating that: “You said this was not predictable—this was totally predictable, and you choose not to do anything.” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin (R) deplored O’Rourke’s politicization of the matter, and requested he be escorted from the meeting hall. Divisive and vitriolic exchanges like this between those for and against gun control have become more commonplace since the incident, and these political tensions are unlikely to dissipate for some time.
Political response aside, there has been an upwelling of community support since the shooting, particularly in the medical sphere. Uvalde Memorial Hospital is holding an emergency ‘blood drive’ in aid of the victims. The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center asked for blood donations, and transferred fifteen units of blood to Uvalde by helicopter.
We await further news of the victims currently in hospital, and updates on the investigation. In the meantime, The Iris offers our condolences to the victims and their families. Our hearts go out to all affected, and we pray that you find peace and recovery.