The ongoing tragedy of massacres in US schools now has a new chapter. A shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a town of 16,000 in central Texas, has left at least 21 dead, 19 children and two adults, according to the state’s governor, Greg Abbott. The attacker, identified as an 18-year-old named Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement.
According to Abbott, Ramos brought a handgun to the school and may have also carried a rifle. Police have reported that he also ended his grandmother’s life before heading to the school. Ramos was a student at the nearby high school, and according to initial reports he acted alone.
A fourth-grade teacher, Eve Mireles, has been identified as one of the two adult victims.
The attack took place on Tuesday morning at Robb Elementary School, where around 90% of the students are Hispanic and many come from low-income families. The killings took place two days before the start of summer break.
The event marks one of the worst school shootings in the United States in the last decade. It is the largest one in an elementary school since the Newton, Connecticut massacre, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza, after shooting his mother, killed 26 people, including 20 children ages six and seven, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He then killed himself. In 2018, at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a 19-year-old former student, who had been expelled, killed 17 people, the majority of them teenagers.
The Uvalde school district authorities sent out an alert for local schools to activate their maximum security protocols. The school warned that there was an active shooter and asked parents to stay away from the area until the police could control the situation.
“Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde,” the governor wrote in a press release and on social media. “Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss and urge all Texans to come together. I’ve instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to fully investigate this crime,” he added.
United States President Joe Biden ordered federal buildings to lower their flags to half-staff, and later on Tuesday he delivered an emotional address to the nation, asking “when in God’s name we’re going to stand up to the gun lobby.”
The United States, where the right to possess firearms is enshrined in the Constitution, is the only country in the world where massacres by firearms in schools are frequent. Most recently, in October 2021, a 15-year-old killed four students and wounded six others and a teacher in a middle school in Oxford, Michigan, a small city north of Detroit. Authorities considered the attack a “terrorist act” and “murder,” and the shooter’s parents were also prosecuted.
School shootings are often carried out by minors. One of the most widely reported cases was the massacre in Columbine, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, when two heavily armed students, ages 17 and 18, killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in the library.
The Texas incident coincides with the publication of a report that reveals that shootings multiplied in the United States during 2021. An FBI tally registered 61 episodes last year, up from 40 in 2020. Last year, shootings left 103 people dead and 100 more wounded. These numbers do not include the perpetrators. One of every five active-shooter situations ends in a mass shooting that takes the life of at least three people.
Only 10 days ago, a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York left 10 people dead.