At least 14 students and a teacher were killed on Tuesday in a mass shooting at an elementary school in southwest Texas. The suspect, identified as an 18-year-old man, was also reported dead. All details about the killing were not immediately available.
Officials said they believe the gunman acted alone. There were no immediate reports of a motive and it was not immediately clear how the gunman died.
It was also reported that the gunman may have shot and killed his grandmother before driving to the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County to carry out the carnage around noon local time.
The New York Times reported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, a major proponent of gun rights, said the suspect “abandoned his vehicle and entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle.”
Abbott offered his thoughts and prayers for those who died.
“Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde,” the governor said in a tweet.
The shooting came as the school year in Texas was set to end soon.
The website for Robb Elementary School posted a note to parents advising them against picking up their children.
“Students need to be accounted for before they are released to your care,” the note said. “You will be notified to pick up students once all are accounted for.”
Students were being transferred to a central location “for reunification.”
The school calendar shows the last day of school is scheduled for Friday.
Census data shows that Uvalde County is more than 95% white and has a population of just under 25,000 people.
The shooting comes less than two weeks after a gunman launched a racist attack at a supermarket that killed 10 Black people.
There have been more mass shootings this year than there have been days.
According to Public Citizen, Tuesday made the 212th mass shooting of the year. It came on the 144th day of the year.
Texas is among the states with the loosest gun laws in the nation.
It was only last year when Abbot signed a law allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license or training.
“Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans who were initially noncommittal about the bill were under immense political pressure this session from conservatives and gun rights advocates, who have long lobbied the Texas Legislature for permitless carry but historically struggled to win support,” the Texas Tribune reported at the time.
While details were still scarce, it was impossible not to at least draw an immediate comparison to the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut in 2012. In that instance, 20-year-old Adam Lanza stormed the elementary school in Newtown and killed 26 people, with 20 of them being either 6 or 7 years old.
Gun violence is widely seen as a public health issue in the U.S.
Gun legislation has languished and stalled in Congress for years despite the rising number of mass shootings. The only way to possibly make a dent in the gun violence is to make an “investment” in preventative measures, Pastor Michael McBride and Dr. Antonio Cediel, of the anti-gun violence organization, LIVE FREE, wrote last month in an op-ed for NewsOne.
“Mayors, county administrators, and governors—Democrats and Republicans alike—are quick to stand at a podium and decry the scourge of gun violence after a shooting,” they wrote. “But making pronouncements at a press conference is different from making investments.”
They added later: “At this point, it’s up to politicians to learn from the failures of the past and make real investments in bringing peace to our cities.”
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.