A heroic 10-year-old girl shot dead as she tried to call 911 is among 19 child victims of America’s latest school mass shooter, as devastated relatives recount their loved one’s horrifying final moments.
Amerie Jo Garza, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary in the city Uvalde, Texas, was killed in cold blood Tuesday morning by 18-year-old ‘loner’ Salvador Ramos, who strode into the school carrying a handgun, a rifle, and wearing body armor before opening fire on classrooms full of children in an attack that also killed two teachers.
Berlinda Irene Arreola, Amerie’s grandmother, said that Ramos told the class ‘you’re going to die’ before he began his massacre – shooting her granddaughter dead as she tried to call 911. Amerie was sat next to her best friend who was left ‘covered in her blood’, Berlinda told the Daily Beast.
‘So the gunman went in and he told the children, “You’re going to die.” And [Amerie] had her phone and she called 911. And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood,’ Berlinda said.
Also killed in the attack were two boys – Xavier Lopez, 10, and nine-year-old Uziyah Garcia – and three more girls – Makenna Elrod, 10, Eliahana Torres, also 10, and Ellie, whose age and surname were not immediately available. Eva Mireles, 44, and Irma Garcia, a mother-of-four, were the two teachers shot and killed.
Ramos was eventually stopped by a Border Guard agent who had been manning a nearby post and rushed into the school. The two exchanged gunfire, with Ramos shot and killed. The agent was wounded, a local official said, but was able to walk himself out of the school.
A number of others were also hurt in the attack, but the exact figure remained unclear late Tuesday.
Ramos’s murder-spree started when he shot his grandmother at a house in Uvalde, reportedly during an argument over his failure to graduate. Conflicting reports suggested she was in critical condition or had died of her injuries.
Desperate parents appealed on social media for news of their missing children as police warned that the death toll is expected to rise.
Amerie Jo Garza, 10 (right), was among 19 children shot dead at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday. Her grandmother said she was killed as she tried to phone 911 while sitting next to her best friend, who ended up covered in her blood
Salvador Ramos, 18, from Uvalde, has been identified as the shooter. He was described as a bullied loner who slowly dropped out of school due to teasing about his lisp, habit of wearing eyeliner, clothes and his family’s poverty
Uziyah Garcia, nine, (left) and Makenna Elrod, 10, (right) were both confirmed dead by loved ones on Facebook
Xavier Lopez, 10, (left) and Eliahana Torres, 10, (right) was also killed at the school shooting on Tuesday
Steven Garcia and Jennifer Lugo confirmed their daughter, Ellie, was killed in Tuesday’s massacre after she had been missing for several hours
Irma Garcia (left) and Eva Mireles (right), who co-taught fourth grade, were both shot and killed at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday
One video at the scene appears to show the suspected gunman, named by Governor Greg Abbott as Salvador Ramos, approach the school while what sounds like gunfire is going off in the background
Ramos’s home in Uvalde is seen on Tuesday as police try to fathom a motive for the shooting
Law enforcement are seen near the crime scene on Tuesday afternoon after the mass murder at the school
Horrified parents and students gathered after the shooting at the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center
Joe Biden, speaking at the White House where he had ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honour of the victims, kicked off the inevitable debate about gun control. Declaring himself ‘sick and tired’ of the cyclical discussion, he called for voters to ‘turn this pain into action’ to prevent more mass killings. ‘We have to act,’ he said.
‘As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done,’ he said.
Ted Cruz, Republican senator for Texas, led the response – repeating well-worn arguments that ‘restricting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens’ to prevent mass shootings ‘doesn’t work’. The solution, he said, is to put armed officers on school campuses. Cruz is due to speak an at NRA conference on Friday.
Salvador Ramos, 18, shot his grandmother before going to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde; engaging border patrol agents nearby in a shootout; and then barricading himself inside the school, killing 19 students and two teachers
Children confirmed dead by family members included 10-year-olds Xavier Lopez, Eliahana Torres, and Makenna Elrod, and eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia.
Another girl called Ellie Garcia was also confirmed to have died by her grieving parents.
‘My nephew was a victim of a school shooting today,’ Mitch Renfro wrote on Facebook, confirming Garcia’s death. ‘[She] was killed by a crazy man,’ he added.
The missing included Rogelio Torres and Nevaeh Bravo.
The father of 10-year-old Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez said that she was also still missing.
‘He shot and killed – horrifically and incomprehensibly – 14 students and killed a teacher,’ Abbott said at a press briefing. The death toll was later revised to 19 children.
‘There are families that are in mourning right now. And the state of Texas is in mourning with them.’
It was the deadliest such incident since 14 high school students and three adult staff were killed in Parkland, Florida in 2018 – and the worst at an elementary school since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six staff were killed.
‘The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong,’ said Joe Biden, addressing the country from the White House on Tuesday night.
‘As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name will we stand up to the gun lobby?’
He added: ‘Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep on letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?’
Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez’s father said the 10-year-old was still unaccounted for
New video from the chaotic scene shows police arriving to the scene with their guns in hand
A police vehicle is seen parked near of a truck believed to belong to the suspect behind a shooting at Robb Elementary School
A woman cries while speaking on the phone outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center, where students had been transported from Robb Elementary School to be picked up following the shooting
Law enforcement are seen at the scene of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday
State troopers are seen near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday
Sheriffs are seen outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday
A mobile morgue is seen on Tuesday afternoon being brought to the site of the shooting
Mireles, a fourth grade teacher, was identified by her family as being one of the staff members shot dead. She had worked in education for 17 years.
Her husband Ruben Ruiz, a veteran detective and SWAT team member currently serving as a police officer with the school district, held regular active shooter drills for the schools – most recently at the end of March.
Garcia, who co-taught with Mireles for the last five year, had been at Robb Elementary for 23 years.
Married to Joe for 24 years, she was a mother of four – Cristian, completing Marine boot camp; Jose, attending Texas State university University; Lyliana, a sophomore in high school; and Alysandra, a 7th grader.
‘My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO,’ tweeted her nephew John.
‘She was loved by many and will truly be missed.’
She was nominated as teacher of the year for the 2018-19 awards, organized by Trinity University.
‘Let me assure you, the intruder is deceased,’ said Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department.
‘We are not looking for another individual in relation to this case.’
Ramos’s social media was full of photos of guns, which he bought legally on his 18th birthday, state senator Roland Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said that Ramos was born in North Dakota but lived in Uvalde.
Ramos messaged a woman he knew on Instagram, tagging her in a photo of the guns.
‘You gonna repost my gun pics,’ @sal8dor_ direct messaged the girl on May 12.
‘what your guns gotta do with me,’ she replied on Friday.
‘Just wanted to tag you,’ he said back.
Then at 5:43am on Tuesday, @salv8dor_ messaged her and said: ‘I’m about to’.
The girl asked ‘about to what’ to which he answered: ‘I’ll tell you before 11.’
He said he’d text her in an hour and urged her to respond.
‘I got a lil secret I wanna tell u,’ he messaged with a smiley face emoji covering its mouth.
‘Be grateful I tagged you,’ he wrote.
She replied: ‘No it’s just scary,’ adding: ‘I barely know you and you tag me in a picture with some guns?’
America’s worst school shootings
There have been dozens of shootings and other attacks in U.S. schools and colleges over the years, but until the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, the number of dead tended to be in the single digits. Since then, the number of shootings that included schools and killed 10 or more people has mounted. The most recent two were both in Texas.
ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, May 2022
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children, two teachers and injuring others, Gov. Greg Abbott said. The shooter died.
SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL, May 2018
A 17-year-old opened fire at a Houston-area high school, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. The suspect has been charged with murder.
MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, February 2018
An attack left 14 students and three staff members dead at the school in Parkland, Florida, and injured many others. The 20-year-old suspect was charged with murder.
UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, October 2015
A man killed nine people at the school in Roseburg, Oregon, and wounded nine others, then killed himself.
SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, December 2012
A 19-year-old man killed his mother at their home in Newtown, Connecticut, then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first graders and six educators. He took his own life.
VIRGINIA TECH, April 2007
A 23-year-old student killed 32 people on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, in April 2007; more than two dozen others were wounded. The gunman then killed himself.
RED LAKE HIGH SCHOOL, March 2005
A 16-year-old student killed his grandfather and the man’s companion at their Minnesota home, then went to nearby Red Lake High School, where he killed five students, a teacher and a security guard before shooting himself.
COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL, April 1999
Two students killed 12 of their peers and one teacher at the school in Littleton, Colorado, and injured many others before killing themselves.
Ramos shared photos on social media of guns. His account was taken down shortly after Governor Greg Abbott confirmed his name
His last message at 9:16am on Tuesday was ‘Ima air out’.
The shooting started around 11:32am.
The woman reacted with horror when she learnt what he had done.
‘He’s a stranger I know nothing about him he decided to tag me in his gun post,’ she wrote.
‘I’m so sorry for the victims and their families I really don’t know what to say.’
She then added: ‘The only reason I responded to him was because I was afraid of him I wish I stayed awake to at least try to convince him to not commit his crime. I didn’t know.’
When an Instagram user asked if she was his girlfriend, she replied: ‘I don’t know him and I don’t even live in Texas.’
Robb Elementary School, which has 600 students enrolled, is located in the city of Uvalde, hometown of Matthew McConaughey, 60 miles east of the Mexican border and 80 miles west of San Antonio.
A school friend of Ramos’s said that he sent him the photos of his guns too.
‘He would message me here and there, and four days ago he sent me a picture of the AR he was using … and a backpack full of 5.56 rounds, probably like seven mags,’ the friend told CNN.
‘I was like, ‘bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’
‘He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognize me,’ he added.
The friend said Ramos was mocked by others for the clothes he wore and his family’s financial situation, and eventually was seen less in class.
He largely dropped out, and took the job at Wendy’s, where co-workers remember him as quiet.
Adrian Mendes, evening manager at the Wendy’s, said Ramos ‘kept to himself mostly.’
‘He felt like the quiet type, the one who doesn’t say much. He didn’t really socialize with the other employees,’ Mendes told CNN.
‘He just worked, got paid, and came in to get his check.’
Mendes said that he did not know Ramos well – he was already employed when Mendes began in February – and didn’t see him most of the time because they were on different shifts.
Ramos worked from 11am to 4pm or 5pm, five days a week.
President Joe Biden gave a short but impassioned speech less than two hours after returning from a trip to Asia
Biden delivered the remarks in the White House Roosevelt Room with a silent and solemn First Lady Dr. Jill Biden by his side
Photos show a pickup truck that crashed outside the school, which, according to Abbott, Ramos abandoned before entering the school.
He was involved in a gunfight with border patrol agents who arrived on the scene. One of the agents was injured, but is expected to survive.
Biden, who flew home from Japan on Tuesday, addressed the nation from the Roosevelt Room of the White House at 8:45pm. Air Force One landed just before 7pm.
‘I had hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this. Again. Another massacre,’ a visibly emotional Biden said.
Speaking from the White House Roosevelt Room with First Lady Jill Biden clad in black by his side, the president said: ‘Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful innocent, second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happen – see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake?’
He took a moment to empathize with parents who would never see their young children again after Tuesday.
‘Parents will never be the same. To lose a child, it’s like having a piece of your soul ripped away,’ said the president, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015.
‘There’s a hollowness in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into it. And never going to be able to get out. Suffocating. And it’s never quite the same. It’s the feeling shared by the siblings and the grandparents and the family members and the community that’s left behind.’
He lamented there were ‘so many crush spirits’ left to mourn the more than dozen victims.
‘So tonight, I asked the nation to pray for them. Give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.’
His voice growing louder, Biden continued: ‘As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?’
Biden recalled the numerous mass shootings over the last decade, including visiting Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 26 people including 20 children while he was vice president. He also remarked on the this month’s mass shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York.
‘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. I spent my career as a senator and vice president working to pass common sense gun laws,’ he said.
‘We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy, but we know they work and have positive impact. When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down, when the law expired mass shootings tripled.’
He said the ability for a teenage gunman, like Salvador Ramos, to be able to ‘walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.;
‘What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?’ Biden questioned.
He then accused gun makers of spending ‘two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit.’
The flags above the White House are flying at half staff.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, is seen on Tuesday addressing the mass shooting at the school in Uvalde
Concerned parents were captured at the scene desperately searching for their children and video from the chaotic scene showed police arriving to the school campus with their guns in hand.
One widely shared video appears to show the suspected gunman approach the school while what sounds like gunfire is going off in the background.
‘There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site,’ The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District said.
Videos taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting show mothers frantically running towards the campus to collect their kids.
The school warned parents to stay away and instead collect their children from a rendezvous point after they had been ‘accounted for’.
‘Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus. As soon as more information is gathered it will be shared.’
The students were holding a day of celebrations, receiving certificates for the end of the school year.
Dr Hal Harrell, superintendent of Uvalde school district, said that classes had been cancelled for the rest of the school year.
‘School will be closed,’ Harrell told a press conference on Tuesday evening.
‘The school year is done. All activities are cancelled throughout the district – I know graduation is on everyone’s mind, but we will come to that later.
‘My heart was broken today.
‘We are a small community, and we will need your prayers to get through this.’
Ninety percent of the school’s students are Hispanic and there are some 70 teachers.
It is one many schools in the district that is a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, with the city of Coahuila 220 miles away. The school sits on the outskirts of the city of Uvalde, population 16,000.
Don McLaughlin, mayor of Uvalde, told Fox News that shots were fired off site, and that after shooting one person, the gunman ran to the school where he barricaded himself inside.
The district said that the city’s civic center will be used as a reunification center and that parents will be able to pick up their children there once everyone is accounted for.
A mobile morgue was seen arriving at the school on Tuesday afternoon.
A board with the list of classes and teachers is displayed outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center
FBI agents arrive at Robb Elementary School following Tuesday’s shooting
State police arrive at the scene of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday
Matthew McConaughey has been besieged by tweets in the wake of the shooting.
‘This is your hometown, these are your people! A word from you now will go further than a word from almost anyone else,’ wrote one person.
‘Please use your voice and address gun control in Texas. People listen to you,’ wrote another.
‘I really hope @McConaughey will reconsider his run for Governor after what occurred in his childhood hometown today. It’s time to and his cronies out of office and get real gun control in place NOW!’
McConaughey previously teased a possible Texas gubernatorial run for 2022, but last year announced he wouldn’t proceed with his plans to enter politics.
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, tweeted that he and his wife are ‘lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde.’
Ken Paxton, the attorney general for Texas, told Fox News that more teachers should carry guns.
‘We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things,’ he said, adding that he had ‘never understood that argument’.
‘We can harden these schools. We can create points of access that are difficult to get through.
‘We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly.
‘The reality is that we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school.
‘So it takes time for law enforcement – now matter how prepared, no matter how good they are – to get there. So having the right training for some of these people at the school is the best hope.
‘Nothing is going to work perfectly, but that, in my opinion it’s the best answer to this problem.’
But Senator Chris Murphy, a Democratic from Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shooting took place, made an impassioned appeal for concrete action to prevent further violence.
‘This isn’t inevitable, these kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day,’ Murphy said on the Senate floor.
‘I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues: Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,’ he added.
Kamala Harris, the vice president, said: ‘Enough is enough. As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again.’
The deadly violence in Texas follows a series of mass shootings in the United States this month.
Law enforcement crowds the entrance of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told Fox News that shots were fired offsite and that after shooting one person the gunman ran to the school where he remained barricaded. He was then shot and killed by law enforcement
A gunman was on the run at Robb Elementary School (pictured) in Uvalde as the campus and all other schools in the district went into lockdown
On May 14, an 18-year-old white man shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York grocery store.
Wearing heavy body armor and wielding an AR-15 rifle, the self-declared white supremacist allegedly livestreamed his attack, having reportedly targeted the store because of the large surrounding African American population.
The following day, a man blocked the door of a church in Laguna Woods, California and opened fire on its Taiwanese-American congregation, killing one person and injuring five.
Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress, leaving states and local councils to enact their own restrictions.
The National Rifle Association has been instrumental in fighting against stricter US gun laws. Abbott and Cruz are listed as speakers at a forum that is being held by the powerful lobby in Houston, Texas later this week.
The United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 percent compared to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest data.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the ‘monstrous’ shooting before directing her ire at colleagues that have stood in the way of gun reform.
‘Words are inadequate to describe the agony and outrage at the cold-blooded massacre of little schoolchildren and a teacher at Robb Elementary School today,’ Pelosi said in a statement.
‘This monstrous shooting stole the futures of precious children, who will never experience the joys of graduating from school, chasing the career of their dreams, falling in love, even starting a family of their own.’
Referring to the multiple mass shootings in recent weeks, the Democrat continued: ‘Across the nation, Americans are filled with righteous fury in the wake of multiple incomprehensible mass shootings in the span of just days.’
‘This a crisis of existential proportions – for our children and for every American. For too long, some in Congress have offered hollow words after these shootings while opposing all efforts to save lives,’ she said.
‘It is time for all in Congress to heed the will of the American people and join in enacting the House-passed bipartisan, commonsense, life-saving legislation into law.’
Joe Biden’s address to the nation in full
Good evening my fellow Americans. I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this. Again
Another massacre, Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent, second, third, fourth-graders. And how many scores of little children, see their friends die, as if they’re on a battlefield for God’s sake. Gotta live with it the rest of their lives.
There’s a lot we don’t know yet. But there’s a lot we do know.
The 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. There’s a hollowness in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into it. And never going to be able to get out. Suffocating. And it’s never quite the same. It’s the feeling shared by the siblings and the grandparents and the family members and the community that’s left behind.
Scripture says – and Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts – the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
President Joe Biden delivered remarks from the White House Tuesday night about the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas after returning from a five-day trip to South Korea and Japan
So many crushed spirits.
So tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them.
And give the parents, siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.
As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we doing to stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name we all do in our gut needs to be done?
It’s been … 3,448 days, 10 years, since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut – a grade school in Connecticut, where another gun man massacred 26 people, including 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Since then, there have been over 900 incidents, gun fires reported on school grounds – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Santa Fe high school in Texas, Oxford high school in Michigan, and the list goes on and on and the list grows – when we include mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship – as we saw just 10 days ago at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
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.
I spent my career as a senator and a vice president working to pass common-sense gun laws.
We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy, but we know they work and have positive impact.
When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down, when the law expired, mass shootings tripled.
The idea that an 18-year old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.
What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?
Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on for God’s sake. It’s just sick.
And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.
Here’s what else I know.
Most Americans support common sense laws, common sense gun laws.
I just got off a trip from Asia meeting with Asian leaders. And I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. What struck me on that 17-hour flight, what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world.
Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why we we keep letting this happen?
Where in God’s name is our backbone?
To have the courage to deal with, to stand up to the lobbies.
It’s the time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen of this county, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country, it’s time to act.
For those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more, we have to do more.
Our prayer tonight is those parents lying in bed trying to figure out, will I be able to sleep again? What do I say to my other children? What happens tomorrow?
May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day.
And may the lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit becaue they’re going to need a lot of help, a lot of our prayers. God love you.