After the massacre at an elementary school in the US state of Texas, the entire country is in shock at the renewed outbreak of devastating violence. At least 19 children were killed after an 18-year-old opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, near San Antonio, during class time on Tuesday. The gunman raged until security forces shot him, according to media reports.
According to the police, the gunman caused the bloodbath in a single classroom. All of the dead were in a classroom where the perpetrator had previously barricaded himself, police spokesman Chris Olivarez told US broadcaster CNN on Wednesday.
At least two adults were also killed in the incident. On Wednesday it was still unclear whether the shooter was also counted among the adult fatalities.
More than twelve hours after the crime, relatives were still unclear about the whereabouts of individual students. According to the New York Times, parents had to provide DNA samples to determine their relationship to the victims. Many children were taken to nearby hospitals with serious injuries.
Police spokesman Olivarez said the perpetrator lived with his grandparents and first shot his grandmother – she is still alive. He then fled in a vehicle and had an accident near the school. The police were then alerted that a person with a gun entered the school. When the security forces arrived, the gunman opened fire and injured two police officers. Then he holed himself up in a classroom and began “shooting at children and teachers who were in the class.”
US President Joe Biden, who has just returned from a multi-day trip to Asia, addressed the nation. Accompanied by his wife Jill, he delivered an emotional speech at the White House shortly after landing. “As a nation, we have to ask ourselves when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said. The idea that an 18-year-old boy could walk into a gun store and buy two assault rifles is just wrong.
Former US President Barack Obama (60) expressed his condolences to the affected families on Twitter and criticized the opposition Republicans: “Our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way to prevent these tragedies.”
The massacre immediately fueled the ongoing debate about lax US gun ownership rules.
Biden’s Democrats lack the necessary votes in the US Senate for far-reaching changes in the law. Many Republicans oppose tighter regulations, and the US gun lobby is very powerful.
Erick Estrada from the Department of Public Safety in Texas described the first findings on the course of events in an interview with the broadcaster CNN. The young man got out of the car after the accident and was wearing a protective vest and entered the school with a backpack and a gun. There he opened fire. The 18-year-old was then asked by the school’s security staff.
The elementary school was cordoned off after the attack and surrounded by emergency vehicles. Television images showed stretchers being rolled out of the building. Parents wandered around looking for their children. A woman, whose niece is still missing, was waiting in the car in front of a nearby hospital. “We don’t know where she is,” she told local broadcaster Kens5. “It’s not typical of my niece not to speak up. Your phone is off.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, a US border control officer was injured during the operation in Uvalde. Accordingly, forces from the border guard stationed in Uvalde were called to help. When they arrived at the school, they were shot at by the perpetrator, who had holed up inside the building. “Riding their own lives, border control officers at the scene got themselves among the gunmen and children to divert the gunman’s attention from potential victims and save lives,” a ministry spokeswoman said on Twitter.
Another massacre in the United States leaves bewilderment and the question of the motive for looking for victims in an elementary school of all places. Shooting sprees, including in schools, occur with sad regularity in the United States. President Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on all U.S. public buildings through Saturday.
Almost ten years ago, the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had caused particular shocks in the USA: In December 2012, a 20-year-old shot around, killing 20 school children and six teachers.
And just over a week ago, a gunman with an assault rifle opened fire in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and injuring three others. According to investigators, the act was racially motivated – eleven of the 13 victims were black.
Little was initially known about the background to the crime in Uvalde. The investigators kept a low profile. According to media reports, the shooter bought the weapon used in the crime about a week ago, shortly after his 18th birthday. According to CNN, former schoolmates assigned the shooter an Instagram profile on which a photo of two rifles had been posted a few days ago. The behavior of the shooter has recently changed, the Washington Post quoted a childhood friend as saying. He lived with his mother and sometimes with his grandmother and has recently been behaving aggressively.
Just over a week ago, a gunman with an assault rifle opened fire in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and injuring three others. He was arrested at the scene of the crime. According to investigators, the act was racially motivated – 11 of the 13 victims were black.
Last year, the FBI counted 61 gun shootings in the United States. The FBI announced on Monday in Washington that this was more than 50 percent more than in the previous year. The number has doubled since 2017. In 2021, 103 people were killed and 140 injured in rampages. 60 of the 61 shooters were said to be men.
The FBI uses a strict definition for the count: it only includes cases in which a perpetrator shoots at people in public in order to kill them. Classic criminal cases involving armed violence or shootings among gang members are ignored.