An 18-year-old high school student wearing body armor entered a Texas elementary school Tuesday and shot and killed 19 students and two adults in a horrific tragedy that is now the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The student, whose name was Salvador Ramos, according to police, was shot and killed by law enforcement. All total, Ramos killed at least 21.
Ramos shot his grandmother before coming to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde – near San Antonio – and barricading himself in a classroom. All the victims were in the same room, according to the San Antonio Express News newspaper.
Lt. Chris Olivarez with the Texas Department of Public Safety told the Today Show that Ramos was “able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom and again, just began shooting numerous children and teachers who were in that classroom.”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who was briefed by the Texas Rangers, said Ramos bought two military-style rifles when he turned 18, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The shooting sparked a nationwide debate over gun control, mental health, broken homes and the nation’s spiritual condition. Just four years ago, 10 people were killed in a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. The same year, 17 were killed at a school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Five were killed at a 2017 California school shooting. A 2015 Oregon school shooting saw 10 killed.
President Biden urged Americans to pray for the families. He also quoted Scripture: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
School shootings, Biden argued, are a uniquely U.S. problem.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” Biden said during remarks Tuesday. “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 do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies? It’s time to turn this pain into action.”
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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jordan Vonderhaar/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.