A lone gunman carried out the second-deadliest mass shooting at an elementary, middle, or high school on Tuesday, targeting an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killing 21 people.
Nineteen of the victims were children. Another 17 people were wounded, according to authorities.
The gunman, who will not be named per Daily Wire policy, has been identified by authorities as an 18-year-old high school dropout who lived with his grandmother in Uvalde at the time. The gunman worked at a nearby fast food restaurant, and he mostly kept to himself, according to people who knew him.
The shooter was not known to police and did not have a criminal background, according to authorities. Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) said during a press conference on Wednesday that the shooter may have had a juvenile record, though he did not say for sure or give any additional details.
One high school classmate of the shooter who said the two of them were somewhat “close” said the gunman was a loner who was frequently bullied. The two saw each other much less once the gunman stopped attending school. The shooter contacted his classmate again three days before carrying out the attack on Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, texting a photo of an AR-15 and a backpack full of ammunition.
“I was like, ‘Bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” the classmate told CNN. “He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognize me.’”
In the weeks leading up to the shooting, there were signs that the gunman was planning something, said one 15-year-old girl who lives in Germany and met the shooter on May 9 over a social media app. The shooter last messaged her the day of the attack.
The shooter turned 18 on May 16, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In the eight days between his birthday and the attack on Robb Elementary on May 24, the shooter purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition.
The day of the attack, the shooter sent several messages to the girl in Germany starting just after 11 a.m. The shooter appeared annoyed about something having to do with his grandmother and his cellphone. “Ima do something to her rn,” he messaged the girl, according to The New York Times. The shooter messaged again at 11:21 a.m.: “I just shot my grandma in her head.” He quickly followed up, saying, “Ima go shoot up a elementary school rn.”
Timeline Of The Shooting
Since Tuesday, numerous conflicting reports have detailed the shooter’s actions, the police response, and the chaos of the day. Some of those reports have come from authorities themselves, such as the claim that the shooter was initially confronted by an on-site officer before entering the school. A Texas Department of Public Safety representative said Thursday that no officer was on site to meet the gunman, and the gunman walked into the school unimpeded.
Confusion about the response and questions over law enforcement’s action have led some to call for a federal investigation into the response to the Robb Elementary massacre. Still, some facts have emerged in the days following the shooting to put together an incomplete timeline of events.
11-11:28 a.m. – The gunman’s first shots came sometime after 11 a.m. He shot his grandmother in the face before reportedly running outside of the house and driving away in her truck. The wounded grandmother was able to exit the house and walk to a neighbor’s and contact authorities. She is reportedly recovering in a San Antonio-area hospital.
Gilbert Gallegos, 82, the grandmother’s neighbor, said he saw the gunman run out of the house and get into the truck. “He spun out, I mean fast,” Gallegos said. He next saw the gunman’s grandmother emerge from the house covered in blood. “She says, ‘Berto, this is what he did. He shot me,’” he said.
11:28 a.m. – The gunman then drove to nearby Robb Elementary and crashed the truck in a drainage ditch. He exited the vehicle from the passenger side door with a rifle and a backpack full of ammunition, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Victor Escalon said in a Thursday press conference.
The gunman saw two witnesses at a funeral home across the street and fired at them, Escalon said. Neither was hit. The gunman, armed with a rifle and carrying a backpack full of ammo, hopped a fence and approached the elementary school. He was firing at it from the outside, Escalon said. The gunman entered the school from an apparently unlocked door on the building’s west side 12 minutes after crashing the truck.
11:40 a.m. – The gunman enters Robb Elementary and discharges “numerous rounds” almost immediately. Although Escalon could not give an exact number, he said it was at least 25 shots.
11:43 a.m. – Robb Elementary School announces a lockdown.
11:44 a.m. – Officers enter Robb Elementary School and hear gunfire. Some of the fire was directed at them, Escalon said. The officers moved back and took cover. The shooter enters a classroom that is directly connected to another classroom, and either barricades or locks the classrooms to the outside. He kills 19 children and two teachers.
Students who survived the shooting inside the classrooms have given accounts of what they saw.
“He shot the next person’s door,” one boy said. “We have a door in the middle. He opened it. He came in and he crouched a little bit and he said, he said, ‘It’s time to die.’”
“When I heard the shooting through the door, I told my friend to hide under something so he won’t find us,” said the boy, who hid under a table draped with a tablecloth. “I was hiding hard. And I was telling my friend to not talk because he is going to hear us.”
Another 11-year-old girl, according to her father, saw her teacher killed while trying to dial 911. The girl grabbed the phone and then laid on top of her dying classmate and pretended to be dead.
12:17 p.m. – The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District posts on social media announcing an active shooter at Robb Elementary.
By the time the notice is posted, dozens of law enforcement have surrounded the school and the parents of students are gathering outside. Frantic parents reportedly confronted police officers about going into the school, or arming parents who wanted to rush the school to get their children out.
“The police were doing nothing,” Angeli Rose Gomez, who has a second and third-grader at Robb, told The Wall Street Journal. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”
Escalon said that after officers took cover from the shooter, they called for backup and waited for more teams and equipment to arrive. In the interim, arriving police officers were reportedly evacuating other parts of the school while the shooter stayed isolated in the adjoining classrooms.
Gomez, who witnessed the desperate frustration of the parents outside and was frantic herself, said that police officers eventually handcuffed her as she pushed officers to act. She convinced other officers she knew to set her free, and she rushed into the school, grabbed her two children, and ran out.
In the commotion outside the school, she said she saw police pin one parent to the ground and pepper spray another.
A U.S. Marshals Service spokesman told WSJ that deputy marshals never handcuffed anyone outside Robb Elementary.
12:40-1 p.m. – Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol’s tactical unit arrive, gain access to the classrooms, and kill the gunman.
Parents and community members have criticized police in the days following the attack for the perceived inaction. From the time the gunman entered the school, roughly an hour passed until Border Patrol agents entered the classrooms and killed the shooter.
“They are trying to cover something up,” Bob Estrada, 77, who lives across from the school and has a grandson at Robb, told WSJ. “I think the cops were waiting for backup because they didn’t want to go into the school.”
Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Chris Olivarez went on CNN Thursday to defend law enforcement.
“The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is,” Olivarez said.
“They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots,” he continued. “At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.”