Thursday updates: Abbott cancels NRA appearance, will deliver video remarks

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This story is no longer being updated with information about the school shooting in Uvalde. For new updates, visit Friday's live blog here.

After a gunman opened fire in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school on Tuesday, details began to emerge about the horror that unfolded.

The rampage — the deadliest school shooting in Texas history — left 19 students and two teachers dead after an 18-year-old man barricaded himself inside their classroom.

Law enforcement officers eventually forced entry into the classroom, and police killed the shooter.

"It's a small classroom, you can have anywhere from 25 to 30 students in there, plus there were two teachers in there ... a typical classroom setting, where you have mass groups of children inside that classroom all together, with nowhere to go," Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesperson for the Texas Department for Public Safety, said in a televised interview.

We also know now that the gunman legally purchased two AR rifles in the last two weeks, according to a briefing by state and federal officials provided to Texas officials.

As the hours passed, more victims were identified, and the community learned more about the lives lost Tuesday. 

Follow along for live updates from the Uvalde, Texas school shooting and its aftermath Thursday. This story will be updated throughout the day.

More: Live updates Friday: Texas officials investigating police response to Uvalde school shooting

Abbott cancels NRA appearance, will deliver video remarks

Gov. Greg Abbott canceled an in-person appearance at a National Rifle Association convention in Houston on Friday and instead will be in Uvalde to speak about state resources for people affected by a mass shooting in the South Texas city this week.

Abbott will appear at the convention via a video recording, his spokeswoman Renae Eze said. He had been scheduled to address a leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

Earlier this week, the NRA recommitted to holding its annual convention over the weekend after a gunman entered Robb Elementary School and killed 21 people, the deadliest school shooting in the United States in a decade.

Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will attend the convention as planned.

Rather than cover game, baseball teams tweet gun violence info

As two Major League Baseball teams faced off Thursday night, the official Twitter accounts for the teams shared facts about gun violence rather than posting updates about the game.

"In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Rays, we will be using our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence," the New York Yankees tweeted. "The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable."

The Tampa Bay Rays tweeted the same statement.

Along with citations, the teams tweeted that, "every day, more than 110 Americans are killed with guns, and more than 200 are shot and injured," as well as that "firearms were the leading cause of death for American child and teens in 2020."

Other MLB teams' Twitter accounts still covered their games Thursday.

The Rays made a $50,000 commitment to Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the largest gun violence prevention organizations in America.

"This cannot become normal," the Rays tweeted. "We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes."

David Hogg, a founder of the student-led March For Our Lives which supports gun control legislation, shared the Yankees' tweet Thursday night.

"I'm telling you," Hogg tweeted, "this time is going to be different."

Father says parents pleaded for police to confront gunman

Javier Cazares, the father of 9-year-old Jackie, who was among the 19 students killed in the Uvalde school shooting, told the American-Statesman that he rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting, arriving about noon Tuesday.

He said several parents were yelling for officers to go into the building to confront the gunman and when the officers did not, the parents threatened to enter themselves.

He said it appeared that no police were inside the building during the time he was waiting outside.

The account echoes several others that have emerged from parents and other bystanders outside the school.

Victor Escalon, a regional director at the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that the gunman was inside the school for about an hour before he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent.

Escalon, speaking at a press conference, did not answer questions about why Uvalde police did not stop the shooter. Instead, he said they were evacuating students and staff from other classrooms.

He said investigators are still piecing together exactly what transpired.

Cazares said he has not spoken with investigators but that a federal agent stopped by his home when he was not there.

"You're angry. You're sad. You're all over the place," he said.

His niece, Annabelle Rodriguez, also was killed.

— Staff writer Ryan Autullo

DPS: Gunman was killed about an hour after entering school

Victor Escalon, South Texas Regional Director for the Department of Public Safety, said the gunman who fired “numerous rounds,” killing 19 children and 2 teachers was in the school for about an hour before being fatally shot.

During a press conference on Thursday, Escalon said the gunman arrived at the school at approximately 11:30 a.m. and shot at two nearby witnesses, but was not confronted by police before entering the school about 10 minutes later through a door in the west entrance that appeared to be unlocked.

Escalon said there was not an armed school resource officer at the school who exchanged gunfire with the gunman, contrary to initial reports from DPS officials.

Officers with the Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde school district police arrived about four minutes later and were unable to initially make entry because of an exchange of gunfire. He said the majority of the gunfire was at the beginning of the shooting.

While the officers were there, he said they called for additional resources and helped evacuate children and teachers.

Approximately an hour later, Escalon said U.S. Border Patrol tactical teams arrived, made entry and killed the gunman. Escalon did not answer questions about why Uvalde police officers did not kill the gunman during the hour he was inside the school.

“We're all hurting inside. We're hurting inside for the community members in Uvalde, Texas,” Escalon said. “We've got local partners that have to ... live here and work here every day. The victims, the family members, we feel for them.”

Escalon stressed that it would take hours or days to recreate the scene and find out exactly what happened.

Uvalde Police Department chief releases statement on shooting

Daniel Rodriguez, chief of the Uvalde Police Department, said officers responded within minutes to the school shooting along with Uvalde CISD officers. UPD officers sustained gunshot wounds from the gunman, but not life-threatening injuries.

He said there is an ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers.

“I understand questions are surfacing regarding the details of what occurred. I know answers will not come fast enough during this trying time, but rest assured that with the completion of the full investigation, I will be able to answer all the questions that we can,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Joe Garcia, husband of Texas teacher killed in Uvalde shooting, dies of heart attack

Joe Garcia had just placed flowers Thursday morning at the memorial site of his high school sweetheart Irma Garcia — his wife of 24 years and mother of their four children. Then he had a fatal heart attack.

Irma Garcia was one of two fourth grade teachers and 19 children who died Tuesday in a hail of gunfire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

"What happened was my Uncle Joe went to go leave flowers for my Tia (Aunt) Irma, his wife, and whenever he got back, he sat down at the kitchen table with his entire family, and after 3 minutes, he just fell over. I'm told my mom was giving him chest compressions. It happened around 10 o'clock. I know my little brother was there," nephew John Martinez of San Marcos, Texas, told the Detroit Free Press.

Now the four Garcia children — ages 23, 19, 15 and 13 — are planning two funerals, Martinez said.

- Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard

President Biden to travel to Texas to comfort families of Uvalde school shooting victims

President Joe Biden will travel to Uvalde on Sunday to meet with the families of the victims of a mass elementary school shooting.

The White House said in a statement that the president and first lady would visit Texas to "grieve with the community that lost twenty-one lives in the horrific elementary school shooting."

"As a nation, I think we must all must be there for them," Biden said at the White House earlier this week.

- USA Today writers Michael Collins and Rebecca Morin

Congressman calls for FBI investigation into law enforcement action

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is calling for a federal investigation into the law enforcement response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in light of inconsistent reports emerging from state officials about what transpired on Tuesday.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wrap on Thursday, Castro said state officials are providing conflicting accounts of the shooting that are "at odds with those provided by witnesses."

"The people of Uvalde, of Texas, and of the nation deserve an accurate account of what transpired," he wrote, before calling on the federal agency "to use its maximum authority to thoroughly examine the timeline of events and the law enforcement response and to produce a full, timely, and transparent report on your findings."

Castro said officials have failed to account for every moment between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday, when the shooting allegedly took place. He also highlighted conflicting reports from officials about whether a school security officer exchanged fire with the shooter before he entered the school.

"Onlookers allege that parents unsuccessfully urged law enforcement to enter the building during this time and confront the shooter," he wrote.

The letter was made public moments after a news conference in Uvalde where officials recanted details about the shooting they previously reported.

Funds established for victims of Uvalde school shooting

The League of United Latin American Citizens has set up a fundraiser to help support the community of Uvalde, Texas.

"Where 90 percent of the students of Robb Elementary School identify as Hispanics and more than four-fifths are economically disadvantaged, this community needs our collective prayers, help, and support," LULAC said in a release.

More: Here's how you can help those affected by the Texas school shooting in Uvalde

United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County has set up a “United with Uvalde” fund to support the victims families and survivors of the shooting.

"When a tragedy like this happens, it is imperative that we show those affected that they are not alone. They should not have to navigate these unimaginable circumstances by themselves," United Way of San Antonio said in a release.

- Digital producer Sarah Ann Dueñas

Two performers withdraw from performances at NRA convention

Two performers scheduled to perform at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston this week have withdrawn in response to the school shooting at Uvalde.

In a statement, Larry Gatlin said he could not perform in “in good conscience.” He said he agreed with most positions of the NRA, but believes background checks would be a “step in the right direction” toward preventing tragic events like the shooting in Uvalde.

“My prayers and thoughts go to all who are suffering, and I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in AMERICA,” Gatlin wrote on Facebook.

More: Don McLean cancels NRA performance after Texas shooting: 'It would be disrespectful'

Don McLean said in a statement that he thought it would be disrespectful to perform “In light of the recent events in Texas.”

“I'm sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans,” McLean said. “I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.”

Uvalde CISD postpones high school graduation after shooting

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announced in a tweet that the Uvalde High School Graduation ceremony would be postponed.

“Uvalde Community, out of the deepest respect for the families and our community affected by the tragedy we have experienced, the Uvalde High School Graduation Ceremony has been postponed,” the district said. “This is a difficult time for everyone. Please keep all families in your prayers.”

Texas officials investigating if police acted fast enough to stop shooter at Uvalde school

Texas officials are scrutinizing law enforcement's response to the first reports that a gunman had breached a Uvalde elementary school Tuesday to determine whether officers failed to act quickly enough before the attacker killed 19 children and two teachers.

Authorities are focusing on an early timeline of law enforcement's convergence on Robb Elementary School, as some community members pleaded for officers to storm the building, where the 18-year-old gunman had barricaded himself in a fourth grade classroom where most victims died.

Sources close to the investigation said the review of law enforcement actions is routine after a major incident, but it has intensified in this case because of differing accounts from neighbors and witnesses about what police did and when. Authorities also are awaiting final collection of evidence at the scene and analysis of ballistics.

- Staff writer Tony Plohetski

More: Texas officials investigating if police acted fast enough to stop shooter at Uvalde school

Meghan Markle visits Texas school shooting memorial site, leaves white roses

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, made a visit Thursday to Uvalde to pay tribute to the victims.

An Archewell spokesperson confirmed Markle's visit to the memorial to USA TODAY. The spokesperson said it was important for her to make the trip and extend her condolences and support to the Texas community..

Markle was pictured at the memorial site Thursday looking at a somber line of headstones. In another photo, she left a bouquet of white roses at the base of one of the memorial headstones.

Austin restaurants donating portion of sales to Uvalde relief efforts

Two big hospitality and restaurant groups in Austin have announced they intend to contribute money to relief efforts in Uvalde following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Via 313 will donate 10% of all sales at its Texas locations on Thursday to a selection of verified GoFundMe campaigns that has been established to assist the families in Uvalde.

New Waterloo hospitality group, which operates almost a dozen hotels and restaurants in Austin and iSanta Fe, New Mexico, announced it would donate 15% of food and beverage sales at its Austin properties to a fundraiser created by the Los Verdes Austin FC supporters group.

- Staff writer Matthew Odam

More: Austin restaurants donating portion of sales Thursday to Uvalde shooting relief efforts

GoFundMe sets up hub for verified Uvalde shooting fundraisers to prevent scams

The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has set up a central hub for people looking to donate to help people directly affected by the Uvalde school shooting, and GoFundMe executives say they are working to prevent scammers from taking advantage of the tragedy.

“Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by (Tuesday's) school shooting. At GoFundMe, we are working around the clock to ensure the families receive the support they need,” GoFundMe said in a written statement.

GoFundMe has a specific, promoted centralized hub for verified fundraisers related to the Robb Elementary school shooting that is being updated as new fundraisers are verified. It can be found at gofundme.com/texas-elementary.

- Staff writer Kara Carlson

More: GoFundMe sets up hub for verified Uvalde shooting fundraisers to prevent scams

San Antonio hospital provides updates on four patients; two in serious condition

University Health, a hospital in San Antonio, reported in a tweet that the conditions of the four patients in their care from the shooting in Uvalde remains the same. The hospital reported that there is a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl in serious condition, as well as a 10-year-old girl and 9-year-old girl in good condition.

'It's time to die:’ Fourth-grader recounts surviving Uvalde school shooting

A fourth grader at Robb Elementary recounted his experience of surviving the school shooting in Uvalde to KEN5, a television station in San Antonio,

"He shot the next person’s door. 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,'" the boy recalled.

According to KEN5, the student and four others hid under a table with a tablecloth during the shooting and came out from the table when the shooting stopped.

“When the cops came, the cop said: 'Yell if you need help!' And one of the persons in my class said 'help.' The guy overheard and he came in and shot her," the boy said. "The cop barged into that classroom. The guy shot at the cop. And the cops started shooting.”

He said Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles — his teachers —saved their lives.

“They were nice teachers," he said. "They went in front of my classmates to help. To save them.”

ABC: Mother of Uvalde gunman says son was “not a monster”

The mother of the gunman who shot 19 children and two adults in an elementary school in Uvalde told ABC News that her son was “not a monster" but could "be aggressive."

"I had an uneasy feeling sometimes, like 'what are you up to?" Adriana Reyes told ABC News. "He can be aggressive... If he really got mad."

The gunman — who has been identified as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old Uvalde resident — legally purchased two AR rifles in the past two weeks before killing 21 people.

"We all have a rage, that some people have it more than others," Reyes added.

According to ABC, Reyes did not know her son bought the weapons. She also expressed sympathy for children who were killed and their families

"Those kids, … I have no words," Reyes said. "I don't know what to say about those poor kids."

Illinois governor responds to Abbott’s comments on gun violence in Chicago

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker responded Wednesday afternoon on Twitter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott comments during a news conference mentioning gun violence in Chicago.

At Uvalde High School, Abbott said there are ‘real’ gun laws in Chicago, but “there are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas.”

“We need to realize that people who think, ‘Well, maybe if we just implement tougher gun laws it’s going to solve it.’ Chicago and L.A. and New York disprove that thesis,” Abbott said.

More: Gov. Greg Abbott says tougher gun laws 'not a real solution' to ending mass shootings

Pritzker said Abbott was lying about Chicago and “what actually perpetuates gun violence.” Pritzker said that the majority of guns used in Chicago shootings come from states “with lax gun laws.”

“Don’t feed into the false narrative about Chicago and Illinois – it’s an excuse that politicians like you hide behind to stop the federal legislation we need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” Pritzker tweeted.

“Do better,” Pritzker added. “You have 19 kids and two teachers who deserve our best.”

Former Columbine High School principal expresses support for Uvalde shooting victims

As he has done after multiple previous school shootings, Frank DeAngelis, the former principal of Columbine High School, is expressing his support for the Uvalde community and victims.

DeAngelis told TV station KUSA in Denver that he left a message for the principal of Robb Elementary School, and he could go to Uvalde if needed, although he would also respect their space.

In 1999, two gunmen killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School. According to the Washington Post, more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.

DeAngelis previously helped form the Principal Recovery Network, a group of principals who hope to offer support to other school leaders after school shootings. The network is now ready to help support the principal of Robb Elementary School, he told CNN.

“They’re all of our kids. It doesn’t matter whether they live in Texas, Colorado. They’re all of our kids. These senseless deaths just need to stop," he said to KUSA. “You know, the thing that really feels important is I was asked early on is, 'what are you gonna do?' I said, 'What are we gonna do?' because they’re all of our kids and we need to step up as a society and say enough is enough and we got to stop this.”

CNN: Local hospital treating 3 children, gunman’s grandmother

Lillian Liao, the pediatric trauma medical director at University Hospital in San Antonio, said the hospital is treating three children and the gunman's grandmother, according to CNN. All four patients are in critical but stable condition and will continue to receive care over the next days to weeks, she said.

"Broadly speaking, ... we were treating destructive wounds, and what that means is that there were large areas of tissue missing from the body, and they required emergency surgery because there was significant blood loss," Liao told CNN.

Liao, with tears in her eyes, said the hardest part of responding to the shooting at the hospital was knowing that many of the victims were likely already dead.

"I think that's what has hit us the most, not of the patients that we did receive and we are honored to treat them, but the patients that we did not receive," she said. “I think that that is the most challenging aspect of our job right now.”

“Our job as the trauma center is to be focused on treating the patients that we did receive, and that's what we're going to do today,” she added.

NAACP President urges Gov. Abbott to skip NRA conference

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, urged Gov. Greg Abbott to skip the National Rifle Association conference scheduled to begin on Friday after the shooting in Uvalde.

In a statement, Johnson said that Abbott’s attendance at the event after a gunman shot and killed 19 children would send a message that “guns are more important than the lives you represent.” He implored Abbott to “not attend” and “make the right decision.”

“You say you ‘don’t know the answer’ to the endless, senseless school shootings. We have the answer: gun regulations,” Johnson said. “Where do you begin? By skipping this week’s National Rifle Association conference.”

More: The NRA annual meeting in Texas still scheduled despite Uvalde shooting

AP: Frustrated onlookers urged police to charge into elementary school in Uvalde

During the shooting, bystanders urged police officers to move more quickly and charge the elementary school in Uvalde where a gunman shot 19 children and two teachers, according to the Associated Press.

Juan Carranza, who saw the scene from outside his house, said nearby women pleaded with officers to “Go in there! Go in there!” but they did not immediately do so.

Javier Cazares, who arrived at Robb Elementary School while police were outside, reportedly suggested to other onlookers that they should charge into the school. The AP reported that the gunman shot and killed Cazares’ fourth grade daughter.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” Cazares said, according to the AP. “More could have been done.”

More: Bystanders report urging police to charge into Uvalde, Texas school

Uvalde Leader-News mourns shooting victims on front page

The front page of the Uvalde Leader-News, the local paper in the town where a gunman killed 21 people, is almost entirely black, except for a single date: May 24, 2022.

The paper ran a story about the shooting with the headline “City’s Soul Crushed” and photos of law enforcement officers escorting children outside the school.

The Uvalde Leader-News, the local paper in the town where a gunman killed 21 people, published a front page that was almost entirely black, except for a single date: May 24, 2022.
The Uvalde Leader-News, the local paper in the town where a gunman killed 21 people, published a front page that was almost entirely black, except for a single date: May 24, 2022.

Names of Texas school shooting victims continue to emerge

Families and friends are mourning the loss of the 21 victims of the Uvalde school shooting. According to American-Statesman reporters, the list of confirmed victims currently includes:

  • Nevaeh Bravo, 10

  • Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10

  • Jose Flores, 10

  • Amerie Jo Garza, 10

  • Uziyah Garcia, 10

  • Ellie Garcia, 10

  • Xavier Javier Lopez, 10

  • Maranda Mathis, 11

  • Jayce Luevanos, 10

  • Layla Salazar, 10

  • Jailah Silguero, 10

  • Alithia Ramirez, 10

  • Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10

  • Alexandria "Lexi" Aniyah Rubio, 10

  • Irma Garcia, teacher

  • Eva Mireles, teacher

More: 'He was our baby': Families share stories of those who died in Uvalde school shooting

Austin-area school districts increase law enforcement presence after Uvalde shooting

With the last day of school and graduation ceremonies around the corner for many Central Texas school districts, officials increased law enforcement presence on some campuses in the wake of the deadly shooting Tuesday at a Uvalde elementary school.

Several districts such as Austin, Hays, Leander and Pflugerville increased the number of officers at some campuses and for graduation ceremonies. Some districts, including Leander, were holding graduation ceremonies Wednesday.

Officers who serve at Austin school district high schools will be redeployed to elementary and middle schools, district spokesperson Jason Stanford said. That is in addition to normal security measures, such as locking all doors and monitoring social media for threats.

- Staff writer Nusaiba Mizan

More: Austin-area school districts increase law enforcement presence after Uvalde shooting

What you need to know Thursday: Uvalde, Texas school shooting

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Thursday's updates on Uvalde, Texas school shooting victims, shooter