The teenager responsible for one of the worst school shootings in the US had posted on social media about his intentions before barricading himself inside a classroom and firing an assault rifle at children and teachers.
Surviving students climbed through smashed windows to escape the gunman identified on Wednesday as Uvalde local Salvador Ramos.
Ramos, 18, shot his grandmother Celia Gonzalez in the face before driving to Robb Elementary School where he shot dead 19 children and two teachers.
Ms Gonzalez remains in hospital and is undergoing surgery.
It has emerged that Ramos had previously been bullied at high school and had moved in with his grandmother after an argument with his mother earlier this year.
As the debate over easy access to guns once again ignites in the US, local leaders also explained that there had been inadequate mental health support in the community.
Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that after storming past school security the shooter had “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers”.
Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a nearby classroom, said students were watching a movie when a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, their teacher saw the armed assailant walk past the door.
“Oh, my God, he has a gun!” the teacher shouted twice, according to Mr Silva.
“The teacher didn’t even have time to lock the door,” he said.
Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming, suggesting that “kids should watch out”, according to state senator Roland Gutierrez, who said he had been briefed by state police.
He had made three concerning posts immediately before the shootings, including directly threatening his grandmother.
Facebook later said the posts were made in a private post, not public to everyone on Ramos’ page.
The teen also contacted a stranger on Instagram, telling the girl he had a “lil secret” and asking her to share pictures of his weapons.
She has since come forward with information about the chilling posts and explained that she did not know Ramos nor even live in the same state.
“He’s a stranger…I’m so sorry for the victims and their families,” the girl wrote on Instagram.
Ramos legally bought two AR-style rifles just days before the attack, soon after his 18th birthday, state senators briefed by law enforcement said.
One of the guns was purchased at a federally licensed dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17, according to senator John Whitmire. Ramos bought 375 rounds of ammunition the next day, then purchased the second rifle on May 20.
On that day, an Instagram account appearing to belong to the gunman shared a photo of two AR-style rifles.
The attack in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in the US since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
In a sombre address to the nation hours after the bloodshed in Uvalde, US President Joe Biden pleaded for new gun restrictions.
“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” he asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”
Three children and an adult remain at a San Antonio hospital, where two of them – a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl – were reported to be in a serious condition.
History of school massacres
- ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, May 2022
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on Tuesday at a primary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and a teacher and injuring others, Governor Greg Abbott said. The shooter died.
- SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL, May 2018
A 17-year-old opened fire at a Houston-area high school, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. The suspect has been charged with murder.
- MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, February 2018
An attack left 14 students and three staff members dead at the school in Parkland, Florida, and injured many others. The 20-year-old suspect was charged with murder.
- UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, October 2015
A man killed nine people at the school in Roseburg, Oregon, and wounded nine others, before taking his own life.
- SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, December 2012
A 19-year-old man killed his mother at their home in Newtown, Connecticut, then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first graders and six educators. He took his own life.
- VIRGINIA TECH, April 2007
A 23-year-old student killed 32 people on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, in April 2007; more than two dozen others were wounded. The gunman then took his own life.
- RED LAKE HIGH SCHOOL, March 2005
A 16-year-old student killed his grandfather and the man’s companion at their Minnesota home, then went to nearby Red Lake High School, where he killed five students, a teacher and a security guard before shooting himself.
- COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL, April 1999
Two students killed 12 of their peers and one teacher at the school in Littleton, Colorado, and injured many others before killing themselves.
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