Updates from the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
Uvalde teacher was on the phone with her husband before her death
Thursday, June 2
After the gunman entered the school, teacher Eva Mireles spent her last minutes on the phone with her husband, Ruben Ruiz, CNN reported. Ruiz, a school district police officer, wasn’t allowed to enter the building due to orders from his boss, Police Chief Pedro Arredondo.
This phone call suggests that at least one officer had information as to what was happening inside of the building during the shooting, according to The New York Times. It is not known how long they were on the phone with one another.
This new evidence puts police under more criticism, due to the fact that the police chief stopped officers from entering the school, despite several 911 calls from students asking for help. The police chief was under the impression that the shooter barricaded himself inside the classroom and students weren’t at risk, per Vice. The time that the shooter spent inside of the classroom is thought to be when he killed the majority of the victims.
However, Texas Sen. Roland Gutierrez has said that Police Chief Pete Arredondo did not know about the 911 calls. According to Gutierrez, the calls were being directed to the city police but were not communicated to Arredondo, who was at the school, The Associated Press reported.
Custom caskets created for the victims
Thursday, June 2
Trey Ganem owns Soulshine Industries, based out of Edna, Texas, where he makes custom caskets for a living. Ganem was asked if he could make custom caskets for the victims of the Robb Elementary School massacre, according to The New York Times.
Ganem personalized each person’s casket based on information from the parents on what each of the children loved, per CBS News.
“We don’t just put a vinyl wrap on top. We actually custom paint every single one. We take the casket completely apart and we paint the hardware, we paint the bars,” Ganem told CNN. “The class and the passion we put into these is bar none.”
Over the holiday weekend, Ganem and his team worked tirelessly to finish all 19 caskets, running on only six hours of sleep, he told CNN.
Gov. Abbott calls for legislative committees to protect Texans
Wednesday, June 1
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a joint letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan calling for the formation of legislative committees to protect the people of Texas after the shooting last week.
“We as a state must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence. As leaders, we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans,” Abbott said in the letter.
Abbott requested the committees to focus on areas that can help prevent future school shootings, including school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.
The committees should “review what steps previous legislatures have enacted, what resources the State has made available to local school districts,” the letter stated.
Abbott added that the committees should make recommendations to lawmakers so that “meaningful action” can be taken.
School officer at the scene of shooting sworn into Uvalde City Council
Wednesday, June 1
Pete Arredondo was at the scene during the incident at Robb Elementary School last week, and was sworn in as a member of the Uvalde City Council on Tuesday, according to CNN.
“Out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days, no ceremony was held,” Uvalde Mayor Dan McLaughlin said in a statement.
Arredondo is allegedly the officer responsible for holding officers back during the shooting last week, telling them to remain outside, per NBC News. He believed that the shooter was barricaded and was unable to harm more students, which was later found not to be the case.
McLaughlin stated, “There is nothing in the City Charter, Election Code, or Texas Constitution that prohibits him from taking the oath of office. To our knowledge, we are currently not aware of any investigation of Mr. Arredondo.”
Funerals held for victims this week
Tuesday, May 31
Funerals for 11 children, and teacher Irma Garcia, will be held in Uvalde, Texas, this week, according to CBS News.
Other services took place over Memorial Day weekend. The people of Uvalde gathered for a vigil on Saturday, and again on Sunday to hear President Joe Biden address the community and the victims’ families, The New York Times reports.
The Associated Press reported that memorial services for 10-year-olds Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez were held on Monday.
Mourners for Amerie wore shades of lilac and lavender, her favorite color, at the request of her father, per AP.
“I just want people to know she died trying to save her classmates,” Angel Garza, Amerie’s father, told CNN. “She just wanted to save everyone.”
Those remembering Maite wore green tie-dye shirts with an illustration of Maite with angel wings, AP reported.
Nineteen of the victims will be laid to rest in custom caskets provided to the families at no cost from a Texas company. Donations from an anonymous donor and contributions from the funeral home will cover all funeral costs, ensuring that families will not have to pay, CNN states.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit Uvalde memorial
Sunday, May 29
In an effort to comfort a grieving community, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday to speak with community members and visit the memorial site at Robb Elementary School, according to The New York Times.
The president and the first lady paid their respects with a bouquet of flowers and spent time observing photos of the 19 children and two adults who lost their lives, CNN reported.
At the memorial site, the Bidens were joined by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez and Uvalde County Independent School District Independent Superintendent Hal Harrell, per ABC News.
During their visit, the Bidens also attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, according to CBS News.
The details surrounding the police response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School are still unclear, but The Justice Department recently announced that they will be investigating law enforcement’s response, The Associated Press reported.
This is the second time this month that Biden has visited a grieving community in the wake of a mass shooting. He also visited Buffalo, New York, following a supermarket shooting in which 10 people were killed earlier this month.
In Biden’s White House remarks earlier this week on the tragic shooting in Uvalde, he said, “For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act.”
Gov. Abbott is ‘livid’ about police action in Uvalde on Tuesday
Friday, May 27
Reports revealed that officers stood in the hallway for more than 45 minutes before they entered the classroom where the gunman shot most victims, Fox News Austin stated.
In an earlier press conference, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised the police for their “courage” and swift response to the shooting, according to the Texas Tribune.
But in Friday’s press conference, Abbott said that he was “misled” in comments he made at the earlier conference, according to NPR.
“I was misled. I am livid about what happened. When I came out here on this stage and told the public what happened it was a recitation of what people in that room told me ... as everybody has learned, the information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate and I’m absolutely livid about that,” Abbott said Friday, according to NBC Dallas Fort Worth.
Abbott also announced in the press conference the “One Star” fund dedicated to helping victims of the shooting and their families with any costs that may have arisen from the tragedy. Benefits include coverage of funeral costs and travel for family members that may be coming from other areas.
The governor said $175,000 has been donated anonymously to ensure that all funeral service costs of victims will be covered.
“No family who is suffering from incalculable heartbreak at this time will have to worry about a single cost with anything concerning this travesty,” Abbott said, per NBC.
Officers admit they should have moved more quickly during shooting
Friday, May 27
During a news conference Friday, officials admitted that they should have acted more quickly during Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. The nation also learned that 911 calls were made by at least two students in classrooms and that police did not enter the classroom until 78 minutes after the shooter did.
“Some of the worst fears about the police response to the school shooting rampage were confirmed on Friday when state law enforcement officials acknowledged that more than an hour lapsed after the shooting began, as the police waited to enter the classroom where students were trapped inside,” The New York Times reported.
Police stated that the on-site commander transitioned the shooting status from “active shooter to barricaded subject,” The Washington Post reported.
This decision resulted in a “lengthy wait” before a tactical team entered the classroom and shot the gunman, according to CNN.
“With the benefit of hindsight, of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision,” said Steven C. McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety director.
Officers also stated that they were hesitant to enter the school because “they could have been shot,” per The Washington Post.
Other details also emerged Friday:
- “As many as 19 police officers waited outside in the school hallway,” according to the New York Times.
- Also according to The New York Times: “Multiple people in the classrooms, including at least two students, called 911 over that horrifying stretch, begging for police. But apparently believing that the suspect had barricaded himself in the classroom and that ‘there were no kids at risk,’ the police did not enter the classroom until 12:50 p.m., 78 minutes after the shooter walked inside.”
Husband of deceased teacher dies of heart attack; students begin to speak out on Tuesday’s events
Friday, May 27
Husband of deceased teacher dies of heart attack: Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of the teachers killed in the shooting on Tuesday, died on Thursday of a heart attack, The New York Times reported.
John Martinez, nephew of Garcia, stated that authorities found Irma Garcia’s body, “embracing children in her arms pretty much until her last breath,” per The New York Times.
11-year-old smears herself with blood: CNN reported that an 11-year-old girl at Robb Elementary School smeared herself in blood and “played dead” in fear that the gunman would come back for her.
The student, Miah Cerrillo, told CNN that once word of an active shooter spread through the school, her teacher went to go lock the door but the shooter was already there. He opened fire at the teachers and the students.
Off-duty officer rescues students: After receiving a text from his wife, a fourth grade teacher at Robb Elementary on Tuesday, an off duty Border Patrol Agent saved dozens of children who were inside of the school, according to Fox News.
Fox reported that the officer borrowed a shotgun from his barber, and the two of them approached the school to save his 8-year-old daughter who was locked in a bathroom, and his wife who was hiding under a desk in her classroom with her students.
Victim released from the hospital: An unnamed 10-year-old girl has been released from the University Hospital in San Antonio.
There are still two victims from the shooting being treated in the hospital, the Austin American Statesman reported: a 10-year-old girl in serious condition, and a 9-year-old girl in good condition. The shooter’s grandmother, who he shot in the face before going to the school, is still in the hospital in serious condition.
Gunman messages around a dozen people prior to shooting: ABC News states that the shooter sent concerning messages, such as pictures of guns, to around a dozen people before the shooting on Tuesday. He had sent the messages across several different social media platforms.
Gunman held shootout with police for an hour
Thursday, May 26
A timeline of events has begun to emerge surrounding the shooting. Here’s what we know so far.
- In the weeks leading to the attack, the shooter, Salvador Ramos, was in contact with a 15-year-old girl living in Frankfurt, Germany, via social media. He texted her before the attacks happened on Tuesday, CNN reports.
- The two were in contact daily and Ramos spoke of plans to visit Frankfurt to see the girl. On Monday, Ramos told her that he received a package of ammunition. The girl asked what Ramos planned to do with it and he responded by saying it was a surprise. “Just wait for it,” he added, via CNN.
- CNN reports that Ramos was able to enter the school through an unlocked door on Tuesday morning, at around 11:30 a.m.
- The assigned school officer was not in the building at the time, but nearby. He rushed to the school once the 911 calls came in. By the time the officer had arrived at the school, the shooter had already entered the school and began firing, The New York Times states.
- Ramos then barricaded himself in a classroom. Two officers attempted to enter the room but were shot upon entry. Shooting continued within the classroom, which is where most of the victims are believed to have died, according to the report.
- Ramos was in the school for up to an hour before a team was able to enter the classroom and “contain” him, BBC News reported.
- A fourth-grade survivor said that the shooter entered the classroom and told the students, “It’s time to die,” according to the Austin American Statesman.
- Witnesses on the scene accused officers of not acting quickly enough, according to BBC. Javier Cazares, whose daughter was killed during the attack, said that the police “weren’t doing anything.”
- “They said they rushed in and all that, we didn’t see that,” Cazares told The New York Times. He was reported to be outside of the school during the shooting.
Gov. Abbott holds a press conference
Wednesday, May 25
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addressed the community of Uvalde in a press conference at a nearby high school on Wednesday.
The governor stated that the gunman wrote three Facebook messages before the shooting, according to NBC News. One message, written 30 minutes before the shooting, stated he was going to shoot his grandmother, while another message stated he had shot his grandmother. Fifteen minutes before the shooting, he wrote: “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”
A Meta spokesperson stated that these were not public posts, but private messages found after the attack.
The press conference was interrupted by Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas representative who is running against Abbott for governor in November.
“The next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said.
Others on the stage, including Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, shouted at the former representative as he approached the stage, while the governor sat quietly. Sen. Ted Cruz shouted at O’Rourke to sit down.
“Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state, or they will continue to be killed,” O’Rourke shouted before he was removed from the press conference by security, according to The New York Times.
“I hate to say this, but there are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago, then there are in schools in Texas,” Abbott stated, according to CNN. He referred to gun laws in other states, stating that he believes the laws don’t prevent shootings from happening.
The governor continued by saying that mental health resources will be made available for the people of the community.
19 children, 2 teachers are confirmed dead
Wednesday, May 25
The grim death toll from Tuesday’s school shooting now includes 19 children and two teachers, in addition to the shooter.
All the deaths took place in a single classroom, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Department for Public Safety.
“Just goes to show you the complete evil from this shooter,” Lt. Chris Olivarez told CNN.
Officials also confirmed that the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos, wore body armor and carried a rifle. He barricaded himself inside the classroom, according to CNN.
According to The Washington Post, the shooter “was a lonely 18-year-old who was bullied over a childhood speech impediment, suffered from a fraught home life and lashed out violently against peers and strangers recently and over the years, friends and relatives said.”
President Biden says, ‘We have to act’
Tuesday, May 24
President Joe Biden addressed the massacre in remarks on Tuesday, saying the following:
- “I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this. Again. Another massacre.”
- “There’s a lot we don’t know yet. There’s a lot we do know. But parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same. To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.”
- “I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.”
- The president says that while we can’t prevent every tragedy, commonsense gun laws “work and have positive impact.”
School shooting in Uvalde, Texas
Tuesday, May 24
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that 18 students and one adult are dead after a shooting took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Times.
The governor had previously stated that 14 students had been killed in the shooting, per CBS Austin.
The governor confirmed the shooter to be 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School, reported ABC News.
Authorities stated in a press conference that the shooter acted alone, according to The New York Times.
It is believed that Ramos abandoned his vehicle and entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, according to CBS Austin. The shooter was killed by officers.
The shooter allegedly also shot and killed his grandmother before going to the school, according to ABC. Two responding officers were also injured, but are expected to survive.
Parents were instructed to stay away from the school at this time. The district stated that children need to be accounted for before they can be released into their parents’ care, The New York Times reported.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas stated, “We’re still trying to get a clear picture of what happened and what the motivation was,” per The New York Times.
The last day of school was supposed to be on Thursday, according to the school district’s calendar. The school will be cancelling all further events, CNN reports.
“When parents drop their kids off at school, they have every expectation to know that they’re going to be able to pick their child up when that school day ends. And there are families who are in mourning right now,” said Gov. Abbott via ABC. “The state of Texas is in mourning with them for the reality that these parents are not going to be able to pick up their children.”
Robb Elementary is located in Uvalde County, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio, per CNN. The school teaches students that are in 2nd through 4th grades, with about 535 students.
The case is still in its early stages and authorities will release more information later today.