Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the gunman whoin Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers, said on Facebook just before the shooting that he was going to attack a school. The gunman, identified as an 18-year-old man from the area, was killed by law enforcement, police said.
Abbott said the gunman wrote three messages on Facebook before the attack: once, about 30 minutes before the school shooting, to say he was going to shoot his grandmother, once to say he had shot his grandmother, and a third time — approximately 15 minutes before the shooting — to say he was going to open fire at an elementary school.
Facebook said the posts “were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred,” and that the company is “closely cooperating with law enforcement.”
Authorities said the gunman shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before the school shooting. She contacted police and the suspect fled, later crashing his grandmother’s car about a block from the school. He then exited the car and took a backpack and one rifle with him.
A district police officer engaged the gunman when he arrived at the school, but the shooter was able to enter a back door, travel down two short hallways and enter a classroom, which was connected internally to another classroom, Abbott said.
The gunman then barricaded himself in the classroom, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department Public Safety
“At that point, [he] just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom, having no regard for human life,” Olivarez said. “Just a complete tragedy. An evil person going into the school and killing children for no reason whatsoever.”
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said the gunman purchased two semi-automatic rifles and ammunition at a local sporting goods store, one of which he brought with him into the school. McCraw said the suspect obtained the weapons in March at the press conference, but the Department of Public Safety later confirmed he bought the weapons on May 17 and May 20.
Olivarez said the officers who first responded to the scene “were at a point of disadvantage” and were not able to make entry.
“There was no way they were able to make entry, especially with the amount of manpower that was on scene,” he said. “So at that point, their primary focus was to evacuate as many children as possible.”
A specialized tactical unit made of local, state and federal law enforcement officers were eventually able to enter the classroom, authorities said. Three officers were injured, and all are in good condition, Abbott said.
McCraw commended the officers who engaged the shooter before the tactical unit entered, saying they saved lives by keeping him “pinned down” at his location.
“Obviously this is a situation we failed in the sense that we didn’t prevent this mass attack — but I can tell you, those officers that arrived on the scene and put their lives in danger, they saved other kids,” he said. “They kept him pinned down, and we’re very proud of that.”
Abbott on Wednesday heralded the “amazing courage” of law enforcement, for “running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives.”
He noted that one sheriff’s deputy lost a daughter in the shooting.
“Evil swept across Uvalde yesterday,” Abbott said. “Days before yesterday, when these children were in school, some were receiving awards for perfect attendance — these kids will never attend school again.”
Abbott said 17 other people sustained non-life threatening injuries in the shooting.