Over 20 people have been killed after an 18-year-old assailant opened fire at a Texas elementary school in one of the worst massacres in US history. The perpetrator was eventually gunned down by law enforcement officers.
The school was attended by children of highly predominant Hispanic ethnicity in the second, third and fourth grades. The incident occurred ten days after another 18-year-old opened fire on a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10, in what authorities described as a racially motivated hate crime.
The attacker, who was reported to be wearing a bulletproof vest, was identified as a Uvalde High School student, who had reportedly bought his rifle after his 18th birthday, according to Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez. Roma was also reported to have been using a handgun during the attack.
Texans mourn for the victims of this senseless crime and the community of Uvalde, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Senator Gutierrez said state rangers told him that the death toll was higher than previously reported, rising to 21 dead, 18 children, and three adults.
More than 500 children were enrolled at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a town located between San Antonio and the Mexican border.
According to unconfirmed media reports, the perpetrator would have unloaded his anger against his grandmother, injuring her, before the attack, but the killer's ultimate motives are yet to be determined. For now, it is not even known if the guns were legally purchased in Texas, a Republican state where restrictions on gun ownership and purchase are limited.
The crime scene is large and will likely take some time to examine and try to clarify the dynamics of what happened, according to local authorities. Police were first working on reuniting the surviving children with their families.
President Joseph Biden, who was briefed on the shooting as he was returning from Japan, has ordered flags to fly at half-mast at the White House, as well as at all official buildings, military installations, and warships until sunset on May 28 for the massacre.
His prayers are with the families affected by this terrible event, and he will speak tonight when he returns to the White House, Spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.