New details continue to emerge about Salvador Ramos, the gunman who killed 19 children and two adults in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
Governor Greg Abbott has described the 18-year-old, who was eventually shot dead by law enforcement officers, as “the sheer face of evil”.
Ramos was a student at Uvalde High School and lived in the small city 80 miles west of San Antonio.
The teen had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, state senator Roland Gutierrez told reporters. “He suggested the kids should watch out,” the lawmaker said.
Then, on the morning of the attack, Ramos sent a direct message to an individual on a Facebook platform reading: “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”
The 18-year-old first shot his grandmother in the face before stealing the family truck and driving to Robb Elementary School just before midday on Tuesday. She called police on him herself, and was later taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Ramos then abandoned the truck in a ditch close to the school and headed inside.
Latest updates from police say the school was unlocked and no officer was present to stop him.
‘He started shooting children, teachers, whoever’s in his way’
“The suspect made entry into the school and as soon as he made entry into the school he started shooting children, teachers, whoever’s in his way,” said Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A team composed of elite Border Patrol commandos, county deputies, and local police officers eventually breached the room some 60 minutes later, with a Border Patrol agent shooting Ramos dead.
The lengthy delay between when Ramos arrived at the school and when officers shot him has prompted intense scrutiny, and Texas state police are reviewing how the response unfolded.
In addition to the 21 who were killed, Ramos injured another 17 people in the massacre, Texas officials said at a news conference on Wednesday. They all suffered non-lethal injuries and are expected to survive.
Ramos legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles for his 18th birthday, one of which he used during the shooting.
“That was the first thing he did on his 18th birthday,” Roland Gutierrez said.
An Instagram friend of Ramos’ said that the teenager had sent him a photo showing a receipt for a gun he bought from Daniel Defense, a gun manufacturer, reported The Daily Dot.
Former classmate says Ramos sent images of firearm and ammunition
An Instagram account identified as belonging to Ramos showed him posing with what appears to be a semi-automatic weapon.
A former classmate said that Ramos texted him photos of a firearm and a bag full of ammunition days before the attack.
“He would message me here and there, and four days ago he sent me a picture of the AR he was using… and a backpack full of 5.56 rounds, probably like seven mags,” the former classmate said.
“I was like, ‘Bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it’,” the student said.
“He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognise me’.”
Ramos bought 1,657 rounds of ammunition prior to the massacre.
Officials found 315 rounds in total inside the school, of which 142 were spent cartridges.
Anoteher 922 rounds were found outside the school but still on school property, with 22 of those spent cartridges.
Ramos had 60 magazines in total – 58 in and around the school and at his crashed vehicle, and two others at his home.
Texas leaders said on Wednesday that Ramos didn’t have a known criminal or mental health record, and that “there was no meaningful forwarning of his crime” outside of the messages just before the attack, according to Governor Abbott.
Friends say gunman was bullied and would lash out violently
However, those who knew Ramos paint a picture of a deeply troubled individual.
Friends and relatives have said that Ramos was bullied, cut his own face, fired a BB gun at random people and egged cars in the years leading up to the deadly attack.
Family and friends have also said that he had a difficult home life, that he was bullied over a childhood speech impediment and that he lashed out violently towards both friends, strangers, and his mother – both recently and over the years.
Santos Valdez Jr, 18, told The Washington Post that he had known Ramos since their early days of elementary school, adding that they were friends until Ramos’ behaviour began to grow worse.
They used to play video games together before Ramos changed. Mr Valdez described an encounter when Ramos arrived at a park where they used to play basketball with cuts all over his face, initially saying he had been scratched by a cat.
“Then he told me the truth, that he’d cut up his face with knives over and over and over,” Mr Valdez said. “I was like, ‘You’re crazy, bro, why would you do that?’”
Ramos said he had done it for fun, Mr Valdez noted.
Mocked over stutter and lisp
Friends and family members said Ramos was bullied in middle school and junior high for his stutter and lisp. Considering himself Ramos’ best friend in eighth grade, Stephen Garcia said he had a difficult school experience.
“He would get bullied hard, like bullied by a lot of people,” Mr Garcia told The Post. “Over social media, over gaming, over everything.”
“He was the nicest kid, the most shyest kid. He just needed to break out of his shell,” he added.
Mr Garcia said Ramos once posted a photo of himself with black eyeliner, prompting a large number of comments that included derogatory language levelled at gay people.
Mr Garcia said he tried to defend Ramos, but when he moved to another area of Texas because of his mother’s job, Ramos “just started being a different person”.
“He kept getting worse and worse, and I don’t even know,” Mr Garcia said. Ramos left school when Mr Garcia moved away and began dressing in all black, he grew out his hair and started using military boots.
Missed large parts of school year, wasn’t set to graduate alongside classmates
Classmates said he missed large parts of the school year and wasn’t set to graduate with the others this year.
Ramos’s cousin Mia, who asked that her last name not be used, told the Post that “he wasn’t very much of a social person after being bullied for the stutter”.
“I think he just didn’t feel comfortable anymore at school,” she said.
Ramos posted images of automatic rifles on social media about a year ago that “he would have on his wish list,” Mr Valdez said. He posted images four days ago of two rifles that he called “my gun pics”.
Strained relationship with mother and father
High school classmate Nadia Reyes told the Post that Ramos posted an Instagram story two months ago that showed him screaming at his mother, who he said was trying to make him leave the home.
“He posted videos on his Instagram where the cops were there and he’d call his mom a b**** and say she wanted to kick him out,” Ms Reyes said. “He’d be screaming and talking to his mom really aggressively.”
Next door neighbour Ruben Flores, 41, told the paper that Ramos had “a pretty rough life with his mom”.
Mr Flores said the issues grew more clear over the years, as police would show up at Ramos’s home and neighbours saw fights between the mother and son.
Mr Flores said Ramos moved from his mother’s home to live with his grandmother a few months ago. The grandmother also owned the home where Ramos’s mother lived.
Ramos’s father, Salvador Ramos, Sr, said he had a difficult relationship with the teen as well, who was reportedly frustrated with Covid precautions.
Mr Ramos worked outside of Uvalde and avoided too much contact with Ramos or his mother, for fear of giving the elderly woman coronavirus, due to her preexisting cancer.
Salvador Ramos, Sr, told The Daily Beastthat he sometimes worried his son was angry at him.
“My mom tells me he probably would have shot me too, because he would always say I didn’t love him,” he said.
The 42-year-old said he was sorry for what his son did to the town of Uvalde.
“I just want the people to know I’m sorry man, [for] what my son did,” Mr Ramos said. “I never expected my son to do something like that. He should’ve just killed me, you know, instead of doing something like that to someone.”
Gunman was involved in several fistfights in years leading up to attack, classmate says
Ms Reyes said she remembers around five fistfights involving Ramos in middle school and junior high. Any friendships he managed to form didn’t last long, she added. She said he once told a friend who wanted to join the Marines that he only had that goal because then he would be able to kill people. The boy ended the friendship then and there.
“He would take things too far, say something that shouldn’t be said, and then he would go into defence mode about it,” Ms Reyes told the Post.
Mr Valdez toldthe Post that his final interaction with Ramos took place around two hours before the shooting. They messaged via Instagram Stories after Mr Valdez had shared a meme saying “why tf is school still open”.
A screenshot shows Ramos replying “facts” and “that’s good tho right?”
“[I don’t even know] I don’t even go to school lmao,” Mr Valdez wrote back, but he told the paper that Ramos never opened that message.
“I couldn’t even think, I couldn’t even talk to anyone,” Mr Garcia told the paper about the moment he found out about the shooting. “I just walked out of class, really upset, you know, bawling my eyes out ... I never expected him to hurt people.”
“I think he needed mental help. And more closure with his family. And love,” he added.
Ramos also reportedly abused animals “all the time” and boasted about it on social media.
Gunman was killed by elite Border Patrol tactical unit Bortac, say officials
The gunman was killed by members of an elite Border Patrol tactical team, officials say.
The suspect barricaded himself into a two-room classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde where he killed his victims and fired at law enforcement through windows.
Members of the Border Patrol’s Bortac team responded to the school, located in the town 80 miles west of San Antonio, but were unable to get into the classroom because of a steel door and the building’s concrete block construction, law enforcement sources told The Wall Street Journal.
The team also took fire from the gunman who shot at them through the door and the classroom’s walls.
After Bortac got a master key from the school principal, they were able to force their way into the classroom.
One Bortac agent took rounds to his shield as the team entered the classroom, another agent received shrapnel wounds, and a third agent shot and killed Ramos.
Officials told the newspaper that once inside, the agents found dead children in multiple piles.
The ATF says Ramos legally bought two riles on 17 May and 20 May. One of the rifles was left in the suspect’s crashed truck, while the other, a Daniel Defense, was found with him I the school.
He bought 375 rounds of 5.56 ammunition on 18 May.
Gunman posted on Facebook that he was ‘going to shoot an elementary school’
Ramos posted on Facebook that he was “going to shoot an elementary school” 15 minutes before his deadly attack, governor Greg Abbott revealed.
He had no previous criminal record or known mental health history before the attack, according to officials.
Mr Abbott told a Wednesday press conference that Ramos had posted on the social media platform three times in the 30 minutes directly before the attack.
The first was, “I’m going to shoot my grandmother.” The second message was, “I shot my grandmother.” And the third, which took place just before that attack started, “I’m going to shoot an elementary school”.
Officials pointed out that Ramos did not specify which elementary school he intended to attack in the city of 16,000 people that sits 80 miles west of San Antonio.
Meanwhile, Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook’s owner Meta, disputed the governor’s claims.
“The messages Gov. Abbott described were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred. We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation,” he said.
German girl says he texted her just before attack
A 15-year-old girl from Germany has told The New York Times that Ramos had text messaged her just before the shooting, saying “Ima go shoot up a elementary school rn.”
The teenager, who is only referred to as Cece, told the newspaper that she received the message immediately after another one at 11.21am, in which the suspect texted her “I just shot my grandma in her head.”
She said that she met Ramos several weeks ago on the livestreaming app Yubo, and that he videomessaged her from a gun shop earlier in the month where he said he was buying an AR-15 rifle.
Cece says that she did not raise the alarm but when news of the massacre broke got a friend in the US to contact authorities on her behalf.
Ramos’s grandfather describes troubled teen and hidden guns
The grandfather of the Texas school shooter says he didn’t know Ramos had high-powered assault rifles at home.
“I didn’t know he had weapons,” Rolando Reyes told ABC News. “If I’d have known, I would have reported it.”
Ramos shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the head before stealing the family’s car and heading to Robb Elementary School.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,“ Mr Reyes said.
Ramos’s grandmother, believed to be 66-year-old Celia Martinez, is in serious condition but alive.
The teen had been staying with his grandparents after a falling out with his mother, according to the family. He spent most of his time alone in his room, playing video games.
“He was very quiet, he didn’t talk very much,” Mr Reyes said.
The grandfather said he would sometimes take Ramos to work with him, as the teen frequently missed school and wasn’t set to graduate.
Mother speaks out and says son not “violent”
The gunman’s mother broke her silence to say that her son ‘wasn’t a violent person.’
Adriana Reyes told DailyMail.com that she was “surprised” the 18-year-old had gone on a rampage and massacred 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
Ms Reyes, 39, spoke out from the hospital bedside of 66-year-old Celia Gonzalez, who was shot in the face by her grandson before he committed one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.
“My son wasn’t a violent person. I’m surprised by what he did,” she told the news outlet from a San Antonio hospital.
“I pray for those families. I’m praying for all of those innocent children, yes I am. They (the children) had no part in this.”
Ms Reyes says the last time she saw her son was last Monday, on his birthday, where she gave him a stuffed Snoopy toy and card.
She also denied that she and her son had a damaged relationship, eventhough he had gone to live wth his grandmother.
“I had a good relationship with him. He kept to himself; he didn’t have many friends,” she said.
Ramos shot grandmother in face after ‘fighting over graduation’ before school attack
Ramos reportedly shot his grandmother in the face after a fight about his failure to graduate from Uvalde High School.
Mr Ramos’ grandmother is reportedly in critical condition, though family said on Thursday she was now awake and able to communicate in writing. According to reporting from John Mone of Newsy, a neighbour of Ramos’ named Eduardo Trinidad said that Ramos was angry that he was not graduating from high school and got into an argument with his grandmother on the morning of the shooting.
Ramos’ grandmother was in critical condition as of Wednesday morning after being transported to a hospital in San Antonio.
Ramos had been a student at Uvalde High School but was not on track to graduate with his classmates this spring.
Texas gunman was inside school premises for up to an hour before he was shot, officials say
The gunman was inside the premises of the school for up to an hour before he was killed by police.
This comes as witnesses told the Associated Press that they had urged police officers to charge into the Robb Elementary school as the carnage unfolded.
Criticism has been directed at law enforcement officials, accused of a lack of swift action as the shooting continued. Police have denied acting late or any “hesitation”.
Ramos had reportedly crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and shot at two people outside a nearby funeral home who ran away uninjured, said 24-year-old witness Juan Carranza.
“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, he said, adding that the officers did not go in.
Ramos was in a standoff with the officers for about half an hour after firing on the students and teachers, representative Tony Gonzales, whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN.
He said there was a 30-minute lull in activity when the law enforcement officers felt the shooter had barricaded himself.
“And then (the shooting) stops, and he barricades himself in. That’s where there’s kind of a lull in the action,” Mr Gonzales said. “All of it, I understand, lasted about an hour, but this is where there’s kind of a 30-minute lull. They feel as if they’ve got him barricaded in. The rest of the students in the school are now leaving.”
Ramos “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom”, Christopher Olivarez of the Department of Public Safety stated. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”
He said the barricading led to a disadvantage for officers and admitted there was not sufficient deployment.
“There was not sufficient manpower at that time, and their primary focus was to preserve any further loss of life,” he told CNN. “They started breaking windows around the school and trying to rescue, evacuate children and teachers while that was going on.”
Raul Ortiz, chief of the US Border Patrol, said the organisation’s agents reached the scene after police had already engaged the suspect at the school. He said members of the Border Patrol tactical team and other joint teams of local officers went after the gunman.
“They didn’t hesitate. They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could,” he said.
Meanwhile, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. It has been reported that it was a Border Patrol agent who eventually shot and killed Ramos.
Police admit officers mistakenly waited for backup rather than storm classroom
A top Texas police official admitted during a Friday press conference that officers should have stormed the classroom rather than wait outside for backup and tactical equipment.
“Of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that,” Steven C McCraw, Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety told reporters.
Law enforcement wrongly believed the mass shooting was over and had shifted to a “barricaded subject” scenario, he admitted, despite youngsters making 911 calls from inside.
As many as 19 officers were waiting in a hallway outside the classroom early on, police said, but an incident commander, the head of the school district’s police force, had determined “there was no more threat to the children.”
Deadliest elementary school attack since 2012
The death toll of 19 students and two adults is the deadliest attack on an elementary school since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 students and six teachers.
Joe Biden told the nation it was time to “turn this pain into action” and change gun laws following the shooting massacre. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” he said at the White House. “Where in God’s name is our backbone, to have the courage to deal with this and stand up to the [gun] lobbies?”
A fracas broke out at the Wednesday news conference with Texas leaders, as gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke yelled, “The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing,” before being hustled out of the auditorium.
“There are family members who are crying as we speak,” the governor said in response. “There are family members whose hearts are broken. There’s no words that anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts. Every Texan, every American has a responsibility where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agenda.”