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Texas school shooting highlights concerns from Latino anti-gun violence advocates

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- The list of mass shootings in Texas in recent years goes on and on. Uvalde. El Paso. Santa Fe. Sutherland Springs.

Latino anti-gun violence advocates in Texas say they are exhausted following the most recent school shooting in Uvalde. They have been continuously advocating against Gov. Greg Abbott's gun laws with each new incident, they say.

"We don't just want thoughts and prayers. We want legislators to take action and for them to say enough is enough," said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of activist group Fiel Houston, who said he will be protesting the National Rifle Association conference in Houston this week.

Abbott said he will attend the conference virtually.

"He can't have it both ways -- he can't condemn the tragedy and at the same time, celebrate the culture that makes these tragedies possible," Espinosa said. "We don't want to be sitting here a few months a few years from now, talking about another tragedy."

Three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have been in Texas, each occurring in regions with large Hispanic populations.

"We have the most permissible gun laws in the country," said Rochelle Garza, a former ACLU lawyer who is running for attorney general in Texas. "These policies that we've got are failing our communities, are failing our people and the leadership that we have right now is not doing anything about it."

Still, in recent years, Abbott has signed a series of bills into law that make purchasing a firearm easier. He argues that each law strengthened the Second Amendment.

"Politicians from the federal level to the local level have threatened to take guns from law-abiding citizens -- but we will not let that happen in Texas," Abbott said in a statement last year.

In 2021, Abbott made it legal for "law-abiding Texans" to carry handguns without a license or training and also loosened restrictions on handguns based on age.

It made it possible for 18-year-olds to receive a license to carry a handgun if they meet requirements other than age.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Abbott rejected the notion that guns were the main cause of the recent shootings, pointing to a lack of mental health support instead.

"We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health," Abbott said. "Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period. We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it."

But gun reform advocates say the state's lax gun laws have furthered the harm done to their communities.

"We don't want to be sitting here a few months or a few years from now, talking about another tragedy," Espinosa said. "We want to make sure that we not only talk about it, but we do something about it to make sure that gun safety is a top priority in this nation."

Latinos in favor of gun reform are calling for "universal background checks, closing related loopholes, and a ban on assault weapons," said Janet Murguía, the president and CEO of Latino civil rights organization UnidosUS.

They say gun reform is a key part of racial and social justice.

Hispanics are disproportionately affected by firearms violence in the United States, according to the research organization Violence Policy Center (VPC).

“As long as assault-type weapons remain too easily accessible, more communities will be broken and devastated by mass shootings," Lourdes M. Rosado, president of civil rights group LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said in a statement.

Nearly 70,000 Hispanics were killed by guns between 1999 and 2019, the organization found, including 44,614 gun homicide victims and 21,466 gun suicides.

Nearly three-quarters of Hispanic murder victims are killed with guns, VPC research shows.

The Harris County Democratic Party has called for Abbott to schedule a special legislative session to address the state’s lack of gun restrictions following the Uvalde shooting.

"Latinx, Black, and nonwhite communities will continue to be disproportionately impacted," Rosado said. "We call on lawmakers to move without hesitation to strengthen federal and local gun controls once and for all, and for lobbying reforms that can curtail the outsize influence of the gun lobby.”

However, there are many Latinos who own guns-- some of whom have become gun owners in recent years.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, says that when comparing 2019 to 2020, there was a 58.2% increase in gun purchases among Black people, a 43% increase among Asian Americans and 49% among Latinos.

The NSSF estimates that 40% of gun sales overall were for first-time gun buyers.

Still, across the board, many Latinos are calling for some type of change. The Latino Rifle Association, a gun owner group, also called for solutions to gun violence.

In a statement posted online, the organization said, "We want a society that does not foster and arm hatred, does not leave millions behind in conditions of poverty and systemic violence."

It added, "So much must be done to create a society that the children at Robb Elementary School deserved."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Parents of child killed in shooting refused to meet with Texas governor

Kimberly Mata-Rubio/Facebook

(UVALDE, Texas) --The parents of one of the victims killed in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week told ABC News they turned down an invitation to meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Felix and Kimberly Rubio, the parents of Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio, said they have no interest in meeting Abbott, her mother saying, "my Lexi doesn't even like him."

"It's not what Lexi would have wanted," Kimberly Rubio said.

Kimberly Rubio said their daughter shared her parents' stance on gun control.

"There's no reason for just an average citizen to have these types of weapons," she said. Adding, "What for? What do you need them for? Is it worth my kid? These kids?"

The parents are now calling on legislators to ban AR-15 style weapons, even though Felix Rubio, an off-duty deputy sheriff, thinks his department will go against him for supporting gun restrictions.

The parents, whose two children go to Robb Elementary School, were at the school the morning of the shooting for two awards ceremonies, one at 8 a.m. and another at 10:30 a.m.

When they heard of the shooting, Felix Rubio said he went back to the school while the gunman was still alive and said he saw him get shot.

The alleged shooter was in the classroom for 77 minutes before officers entered and killed him, authorities said. He discharged 315 rounds of ammunition in that time, with hundreds of those rounds fired within the first four minutes of his arrival, according to authorities.

Asked about their response to Texas officials admitting it was the "wrong decision" to not breach the classroom sooner, Kimberly Rubio said she blames herself for not taking her daughter home after the ceremony.

"I have enough 'what ifs' on my end, so I am not interested in reading about somebody else's mistakes, because I already have to live with my own," Kimberly Rubio said.

"It wasn't done on purpose, but it's still a mistake because I made it, otherwise she'd be home with me. I left my baby at that school," she added.

Lexi Rubio played softball, liked getting ice cream after every meal and wanted to be a lawyer, her parents told ABC News.

"She wanted to make a difference. And I want that for her now, she still can," Kimberly Rubio said.

"As far as like bringing my kids back to school next year, yes, we're terrified. We're terrified because we didn't think it would happen here," Kimberly Rubio added.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NRA convention attendees, protesters on gun control in wake of Texas school shooting

Mark Felix/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(HOUSTON) -- Days after the shooting massacre at a Texas elementary school, the National Rifle Association is gathering this weekend in Houston as the debate over gun control heats up.

The annual convention has also drawn protesters calling for greater gun reforms in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

One attendee said she has struggled with the debate over gun reform as both a Texas gun owner and a grandmother of 13.

"I struggle with that a lot," Teresa Wakefield, of Houston, told ABC News Friday while browsing the floor of the gun show.

But after Uvalde, where an alleged 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers, she said it's time for lawmakers to reconsider the legal age to purchase a gun.

"I don't think that an 18-year-old should have been able to go in there and buy rifles. That's just too much for an 18-year-old," she said. "You can't buy alcohol. Why should you be able to buy weapons at 18?"

Most Americans support gun reform measures including universal background checks and red flag laws, polling shows.

Though Wakefield believes no amount of gun control legislation would stop mass shootings.

"It's unnecessary, and it's uncalled for, but we will never be able to stop it. It'll never stop," she said.

When asked about the Uvalde shooting, Wakefield broke down in tears.

"It's just all this heartache and heartbreak and devastation," she said. "But it's not our fault. It's not the NRA's fault. It's not any gun owners' faults."

'Rabbit hole'

Several gun owners ABC News spoke to at the convention were open to reform -- if limited.

Texas gun owner BJ Spalding said he doesn't support red flag laws but is for expanding background checks.

"That's one thing I don't have a problem with," he said while on the floor of the gun show Friday.

Ron Levandowski, who traveled in from Utah to attend the convention, said he would support a red flag law but worries about what he called a slippery slope.

"I think that's going down a whole different kind of rabbit hole," he told ABC News Friday. "Let's say Joe Biden passes this law tomorrow, and he puts a hardcore-left person in charge of who gets a red flag, then we have another issue."

Tom Shadrix, an NRA member from Florida, told ABC News he would support reform that would keep guns away from people with "psychological issues," but found most reform measures "overkill."

"I want Republicans and smart-minded Democrats to hold the line, because I think it's in our God-given rights that we be able to protect ourselves," he said. "Just because an event like this happens doesn't mean they need to twist it in a political way to their advantage."

Several Republican officials who attended the event spoke out against gun restrictions.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said calls to further restrict gun access are "all about control and it is garbage," while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz argued that expanded background checks would not work and instead called for armed officers at schools.

'We're angry and we're fed up'

Outside the convention, protesters lined the streets with chants for change.

"My daughter is a teacher, and she had to learn to pack bullet wounds in her classroom in order to teach," Kim Milburn told ABC News. "She is in a classroom, and I fear for her life every day."

Milburn called on lawmakers to "do your job."

"Protect our children," she said. "Get it done right now. We're tired, we're angry and we're fed up."

Fourteen-year-old Aubrey Long came to protest with her father and brother.

"I shouldn't go to school and be scared that I could get hurt that day because we can't control our guns," she told ABC News.

Aubrey also said that she worries about her brother and sister in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

"I got chills when I heard what happened," she said. "I don't understand why we haven't been controlling this, why this hasn't changed."

On the outskirts of the protests, Texas science teacher Clark Ellis was holding a poster Friday with the faces of his eighth grade students.

"I am tired of worrying for my students. It's not fair that they have to sit there and wonder whether or not they get to go home at the end of the day," he said. "At this point it feels like lying to them to say, yes, everything's going to be okay."

Ellis said he was standing off to the side hoping to have a conversation with NRA members and find common ground on reform measures like increasing the legal age to buy AR-15 rifles and high-capacity magazines and around gun storage requirements.

"We're looking for allies in this. Whatever we can do to try and make it safer for the kids that I love in my classroom, that's something that we have to do," he said. "We can't do nothing."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Harris addresses 'epidemic of hate' as final victim of Buffalo mass shooting laid to rest

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The final victim of the supermarket shooting massacre in Buffalo, New York, was laid to rest Saturday, as the country reels from another mass shooting.

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff attended the memorial service for Ruth Whitfield Saturday afternoon at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo.

Whitfield, 86, was one of 10 people killed at Tops Friendly Market on May 14 in what authorities are calling a "racially motivated hate crime."

"I do believe that our nation right now is experiencing an epidemic of hate," Harris said during the service.

Harris had not planned to speak but made remarks at the urging of Rev. Al Sharpton, counsel for the Whitfield family.

"No one should ever be made to fight alone. We are stronger than those who are trying to hurt us think that we are," Harris said.

"We are strong," she continued. "We are strong in our faith. We are strong in our beliefs about what is right and our determination to act to ensure that we protect all those who deserve to be protected, that we see all those who deserve to be seen, that we hear the voices of the people and that we rise up in solidarity to speak out against this and to speak to our better angels."

Whitfield was returning home from visiting her husband in a nursing home when she stopped by the market to pick up groceries -- "a daily ritual," her son, Garnell Whitfield, told ABC News -- and never returned home.

She is survived by many loved ones, including her husband of 68 years, Garnell W. Whitfield, Sr.; her four children, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, five great-great-grandchildren and seven siblings.

Attorney Ben Crump, counsel to the Whitfield family, called her "one of the most angelic figures that we have ever known" during Saturday's memorial service.

"It is up to us to take the stand to make sure that Ruth Whitfield's life will be remembered, her legacy, not just for this hateful act, but her legacy will be one of love, where all of us came together to demonstrate a greater love," Crump said during the service. "A love that we said, No more, enough is enough. And that is our plea for justice -- that you stand with us and proclaim enough is enough."

In addition to Whitfield's family and those of the Buffalo faith community, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and State Attorney General Letitia James were in attendance, according to Sharpton, who charged that there is an "epidemic of racial violence that is accommodated by gun laws that allow people to kill us."

Following the service, Harris stopped by Tops Friendly Market to leave flowers and pay her respects. Before she departed Buffalo, the vice president called on Congress to act on gun reform legislation, vouching for a ban on assault weapons and background checks.

"An assault weapon is a weapon of war, with no place, no place in a civil society," she told reporters, adding that background checks are "just reasonable."

Authorities allege the suspect, wielding an AR-15-style rifle, intentionally targeted Black people in an attack he had planned for months.

All 10 of the people killed in the attack were Black, six women and four men. Three other people were wounded in the shooting, including one Black victim and two white victims.

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, was indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder, but all charges remain under seal. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on June 9.

Gendron was initially charged with one count of murder following the massacre. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held without bail.

The suspect is expected to face additional murder and attempted murder counts and state hate crime charges. The FBI is also conducting a parallel investigation, which the Department of Justice said could lead to federal hate crime and terrorism charges.

During a visit to Buffalo in the wake of the massacre, President Joe Biden called the mass shooting an act of "domestic terrorism."

ABC News' Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Texas school shooting live updates: School police had shooter training 2 months ago

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- A small town in rural Texas is reeling after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school on Tuesday, killing 19 children.

Two teachers were also among those killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, according to authorities.

Prior to opening fire at the school, the suspect also allegedly shot his grandmother, officials said.

The alleged gunman -- identified by authorities as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School -- is dead.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 28, 3:05 pm
Shooter fired on at least 6 occasions after police arrived

Alleged school shooter Salvador Ramos was in the classroom for 77 minutes before officers entered and killed him. During that time, he discharged 315 rounds of ammunition, with hundreds of those rounds fired within the first four minutes of his arrival, authorities said.

After the initial barrage, the police commander on the scene mistakenly believed the shooter was barricaded and it was no longer an active shooter incident, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters in an update Friday. But as officers gathered outside the classroom, the gunman kept shooting on at least six occasions, the new details show.

At 11:35 a.m., as the first three officers entered the building and approached classrooms 111 and 112, the suspect fired into the hallway through a closed door, where two officers sustained "grazing wounds," McCraw said.

He fired an additional 16 rounds two minutes later -- at 11:37 a.m. -- and again at 11:38 a.m., 11:40 a.m. and 11:44 a.m., according to McCraw, who did not specify whether the additional discharges were directed at officers in the hallway or at those inside the classrooms.

At 12:21 p.m., with as many as 19 officers then gathered outside the classroom, the suspect again fired at the closed door, forcing officers to "move down the hallway," McCraw said.

Despite those additional spurts of gunfire – and a 911 call from inside one of the classrooms alerting a dispatcher that eight or nine people remained alive -- officers did not enter the classroom and kill Ramos until 12:50 p.m., according to McCraw.

The police response to the shooting is now being investigated, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday.

-ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman

May 28, 1:14 pm
Texas active shooter training instructs 'move in, confront attacker,' manual shows

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District in Texas hosted active shooter training for its six-member police force two months prior to the massacre at Robb Elementary, based on the "Active Shooter Response for School-Based Law Enforcement" course from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which explicitly states: "First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm's way and display uncommon acts of courage to save the innocent."

The course manual also includes this sobering instruction: "A first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field."

The training makes clear the "first priority is to move in and confront the attacker."

It is "safer" and "preferable" to have a team of at least four officers move on a subject but, since "time is the number one enemy during active shooter response," even a single officer is expected to act, according to the training document.

In Uvalde, 19 officers entered the school but remained in the hallway, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said at a press conference Friday.

Only when an attacker is isolated and "can do no more harm to students, staff, or visitors" is the officer not obligated to enter the room, which is what McCraw said the incident commander, Uvalde ISD Chief Pete Arredondo, believed.

"It was the wrong decision," McCraw said.

-ABC News' Mike Levine and Aaron Katersky

May 27, 5:23 pm
Texas governor: 'I was misled' on police response to shooting

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he was "misled" about the response to the Uvalde school shooting.

"I am livid about what happened," Abbott said during a press briefing Friday, hours after the Texas Department of Public Safety detailed missteps that led to a 35-minute wait to breach the classroom where the shooter was.

"As everybody has learned, the information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I'm absolutely livid about that," Abbott said Friday. "There are people who deserve answers the most, and those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate, and it is inexcusable that they may suffer from any inaccurate information whatsoever."

The governor said there will be investigations into the release of information on the shooting and the strategy employed in the response.

On Wednesday, Abbott said an officer had confronted the shooter at the entrance to the school building, which was not the case.

"But the reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse," he also said at the time. "The reason it was not worse, is because law enforcement officials did what they do."

May 27, 4:37 pm
Texas official says gunman had 1,657 rounds of ammunition

The gunman had purchased a total of 1,657 rounds of ammunition, 315 of which were inside the school, Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, said Friday.

McCraw said 142 of those rounds were spent cartridges and 173 were live rounds.

Officials found 922 rounds outside of the school, but on school property. Of those rounds, 22 were spent cartridges and 900 were live rounds. Another 422 live rounds were found at the crash site, McCraw said.

The suspect had a total of 60 30-round magazines, 58 of which were at the school. He had fired nearly 200 rounds, most of them inside the school, said McCraw.

May 27, 3:42 pm
5 of 17 injured in shooting remain hospitalized

Five of the 17 people injured in the elementary school shooting remain in the hospital on Friday, according to officials.

Two children and one adult are being treated at University Hospital in San Antonio, two of whom are in serious condition, and two adults are at Brooke Army Medical Center, both in fair condition.

A 10-year-old girl was discharged from University Health in San Antonio.

Eight children and three adults were treated and discharged from Udalve Medical Center earlier this week.

-ABC News' Jennifer Watts

May 27, 3:13 pm
Texas DPS conducting review of law enforcement actions during shooting

As part of its ongoing investigation into Tuesday's shooting, the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a review of law enforcement actions.

This comes after the visibly shaken Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, revealed a cascading series of police failures before and during one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation’s history.

The incident commander, the chief of Uvalde ISD Police, wrongly believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooter situation to a barricaded subject situation, where the suspect had stopped firing and barricaded himself in a classroom, no longer posing a threat to children, McCraw said.

“He thought there was time,” McCraw said.

McCraw said there may have been a belief by the incident commander that no one was alive anymore inside the classrooms. But, he detailed multiple 911 calls made from inside the classrooms, on which callers explicitly said several children were alive and trapped inside with the shooter. Callers at several points asked for police to be sent in.

-ABC News' Aaron Katersky

May 27, 1:53 pm
Several 911 calls were made from inside classroom as police waited outside

Those inside a classroom with the shooter made several calls to 911, but the tactical unit that arrived at 12:15 p.m. waited 35 minutes before breaching the classroom, Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference Friday.

A 911 call was made at 12:03 p.m. from room 112 and lasted 23 seconds. McCraw did not identify the caller.

She called back at 12:10 p.m. and advised that there were multiple dead in the classroom, McCraw said.

The person then called again at 12:13 p.m. and again at 12:16 p.m., when she said there were eight to nine students who were still alive, McCraw said.

A call was made by someone else from room 111 at 12:19 p.m., the caller hung up when another student told her to hang up, McCraw said.

At 12:21 p.m., three shots were heard over a 911 call. At 12:36 p.m., another 911 call was made by the initial caller and it lasted for 21 seconds. The student caller was told to stay on the line and be very quiet. She told 911 that the gunman shot the door, McCraw said.

At approximately 12:43 p.m. and 12:47 p.m., she asked 911 to please send the police now, McCraw said.

The caller said she could hear police next door at 12:46 p.m. At 12:50 p.m., the Border Patrol tactical unit finally breached the door and shot the suspect.

May 27, 1:18 pm
Suspect reportedly involved in online chats about guns, school shootings in recent weeks

Authorities shed more light on some of the suspect's digital footprint in the weeks and months before Tuesday's mass shooting.

In September 2021, suspected gunman Salvador Ramos asked his sister to buy him a gun and she "flatly refused," Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters during a briefing Friday. He did not note where this exchange took place.

On Feb. 28, in an Instagram group chat with four people, they discussed "Ramos being a school shooter," McCraw said.

The next day, on March 1, in an Instagram chat with four people, Ramos discussed buying a gun, according to McCraw.

Two days later, on March 3, in another four-person chat, someone said, "Word on the street is you are buying a gun," according to McCraw. Ramos reportedly replied, "Just bought something."

On March 14, Ramos posted on Instagram, "Ten more days," according to McCraw. Someone replied, "Are you going to shoot up a school or something?" to which Ramos replied, "No. Stop asking dumb questions. You'll see," according to McCraw.

Investigators are also looking into people the suspect may have communicated with in video game chat rooms who "may have known something," McCraw said.

May 27, 12:36 pm
Officers did not breach classroom for 35 minutes while shooter was inside

Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted it was the "wrong decision" for officers not to go into the classroom where the suspect was for 35 minutes. Children were inside the classroom with him, making 911 calls, McCraw said in a press conference Friday.

The incident commander believed he was dealing with was a barricaded subject inside the school and the children were not at risk, he said.

A tactical team from CBP was on scene at 12:15 p.m., but did not breach the classroom until 12:50 p.m.

“Of course it wasn’t the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision.”

May 27, 11:23 am
US Marshals say they never arrested or handcuffed anyone outside school

The U.S. Marshals said they never placed anyone in handcuffs, but they say they “maintained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community that was gathering around the school," in a statement posted on Twitter.

U.S. Marshals arrived on scene from Del Rio, Texas, at 12:10 p.m., and the first deputy U.S. Marshal went into the school to assist BORTAC, the elite tactical CBP team that ultimately shot the alleged shooter, the statement said.

They came from 70 miles away and got the first call around 11:30 a.m., according to the statement.

“These Deputy US Marshals also rendered emergency trauma first aid for multiple victims,” the statement said.

"Additional Deputy U.S. Marshals were asked to expand and secure the official law enforcement perimeter around the school,” the statement said. “Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness at this horrific crime. We send our condolences to all the victims and families affected by this tragedy."

Angeli Rose Gomez, a mother waiting outside for her children, told the Wall Street Journal she was one of numerous parents urging police and law enforcement officers to go into the school sooner, first politely and then more urgently. She said U.S. Marshals put her in handcuffs, and told her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.

Angel Garza, the stepfather of one of the children killed in the shooting, ran to try to reach and help his child, and was restrained and handcuffed by a local police officer, Desirae Garza, the girl's aunt, recounted to the New York Times.

May 27, 6:30 am
10-year-old survivor recalls gunman saying: 'You're all gonna die'

There was blood in the hallway and children were covered in it, one of the students who survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, told ABC News.

Salinas was a student in Irma Garcia's fourth-grade class. They were scheduled to graduate Thursday, but the ceremony was canceled because Garcia, another teacher and 19 third- and fourth-grade students were killed in Tuesday's massacre.

Salinas said his aunt dropped him off for school on Tuesday morning.

"It was a normal day until my teacher said we're on severe lockdown," he told ABC News, "and then there was shooting in the windows."

Salinas said the gunman came into his classroom, closed the door and told them, "You're all going to die," before opening fire.

"He shot the teacher and then he shot the kids," Salinas said, recalling the cries and yells of students around him.

-ABC News' Samira Said

May 26, 9:57 pm
Accused shooter's mother at one point worked at same establishment of gun purchase: Sources

Sources told ABC News the accused school shooter’s mother, Adriana Reyes, at one point worked at Oasis Outback, the same store where the gunman purchased two weapons just after his 18th birthday earlier this month.

The establishment is half gun retailer, half restaurant; Reyes’ employment was with the restaurant portion, sources say.

It is unclear if she had any role in her son’s purchase of the firearms. The owner of Oasis declined to comment to ABC News and added he would only speak with law enforcement at this time. Reyes has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman, Laura Romero and Victor Ordonez

May 26, 6:49 pm
Law enforcement examining if lockdown was audible to students, staff: Sources

The response by school officials and law enforcement is becoming a key focus in the ongoing investigation into the Uvalde school shooting, law enforcement sources told ABC News Thursday.

It is unclear whether any students and teachers heard an official call for a lockdown once the gunman entered the building, the sources said.

Additionally, investigators are looking into whether officers on site could have made other attempts to enter the school to end the gunman’s rampage faster, the sources said. Responding police were met with gunfire and called for tactical teams with proper equipment to enter the classroom and neutralize the gunman, according to the sources.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman, Josh Margolin, Aaron Katersky and Luke Barr

May 26, 5:19 pm
10-year-old survivor recalls moments after hearing shots fired

A student who was in the classroom next door to the one the gunman entered recounted to ABC News what she did next.

Gemma Lopez, 10, said she heard five to six gunshots and commotion outside her classroom at Robb Elementary School before a bullet whizzed by her arm and into the wall. She recalled seeing a puff of smoke, which is when she knew they were all in danger.

She said she turned off the lights and then ducked under the tables -- what she learned to do in the active shooter training she has undergone since kindergarten. There were no locks inside and they did not have a key in the classroom to lock the door from the inside, she said.

Authorities yelled at the gunman to put down his weapon, to which he reportedly shouted in response, "Leave me alone please," in Spanish, Gemma recalled.

Gemma said her best friend, Amerie Jo Garza, was one of the 19 children killed in the massacre.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman and Olivia Osteen

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Timeline: How the shooting at a Texas elementary school unfolded

Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- What began as a milestone marking adulthood ended in tragedy after a suspected gunman used the AR-15 style rifle he purchased days after he turned 18, authorities said.

Uvalde High School student Salvador Ramos allegedly purchased two assault rifles just days after turning 18 and used them to carry out one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history -- all within a span of eight days, authorities said.

Ramos was known for fighting and threatening fellow students, some classmates told ABC News. He allegedly exhibited unusual behavior such as threatening classmates and claiming to have cut scars into his face, classmates said.

Authorities said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that Ramos had dropped out of school.

Twenty-one people, including 19 third and fourth grade children, were killed in the attack, law enforcement officials said. Two teachers were killed, too. Another 17 people were wounded, including three law enforcement officers.

This is how the shooting unfolded:

September 2021

Salvador Ramos asks his sister to purchase him a gun, according to Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. She refuses.

Feb. 28, 2022

In a four-person group chat on Instagram, Ramos discusses being a school shooter.

March 1

In a four-person group chat on Instagram, Ramos discusses buying a gun.

March 3

In a four-person group chat on Instagram, a user says to Ramos, "word on the street is you're buying a gun." Ramos replies, "Just bought something. RN."

March 14

Ramos posts on Instagram, "10 more days." A user replies, "are you going to shoot up a school or something?" Ramos responds, "No. And stop asking dumb questions. You'll see."

March 20

Ramos moves in with his 66-year-old grandmother, Celia, according to McCraw, from a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

May 9

Ramos meets "Cece," the recipient of several messages Ramos sent on the day of the shooting, on the social media app Yubo, she told ABC News.

The teen, who lives in Germany, said she and Ramos would "join each others live" streams on Yubo.

Cece alleged that there were other warning signs in hindsight, including that Ramos would ask others on Yubo "if they would want to be famous on the news."

May 16

Ramos turns 18, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

May 17

Ramos buys a semi-automatic rifle at a local sporting goods store called Oasis Outback, McCraw said.

May 18

Ramos purchases 375 rounds of ammunition for that rifle, McCraw said. It is not known where he purchased that ammunition.


Ramos buys a second semi-automatic rifle at the same store, McCraw said.


Morning: An Instagram account that law enforcement sources tell ABC News they believe is connected to Ramos sent another user on the social media platform a photo of a gun lying on a bed, according to a user who shared direct messages from the suspect's alleged account with ABC News.

11 a.m.: Ramos allegedly had three one-on-one direct communications on Facebook with Cece. The first message said he was going to shoot his grandmother, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Tuesday.

Another one-on-one message said he had shot his grandmother, and the third said he was going to shoot an elementary school, but did not specify the school, Abbott said.

It is not believed Cece saw the messages until after the shooting occurred.

Ramos shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the head at their residence. She was able to run across the street and call police, McCraw said. She was taken to the hospital via helicopter but is expected to survive.

11:27 a.m.: A teacher props open the school's west-facing exterior door, authorities said.

11:28 a.m.: Ramos drove about 2 miles to Robb Elementary in his grandmother's truck crashing the vehicle in a ditch outside the school, McCraw said. He exits the vehicle through the passenger side with a backpack full of ammunition and a rifle, authorities said. He opens fire on two people outside a funeral home across the street from the school. Neither person is injured.

11:30 a.m.: The teacher inside of Robb Elementary reemerges from the same door and calls 911 to report a man with a gun nearby.

11:30 a.m.: Police receive the first 911 call detailing the crash and shots fired.

11:30 a.m.: U.S. Marshals receive a call from a Uvalde Police Department officer requesting assistance in responding to a shooting at Robb Elementary School.

11:31 a.m.: Patrol vehicles arrive at the scene of the funeral home across the street.

11:31 a.m.: The suspect jumps one fence and approaches the school through a parking lot, firing multiple rounds at the school building. Contrary to previous reporting, he does not encounter any officers outside of the building.

11:31 a.m.: A Uvalde ISD officer who heard the 911 call about a man with a gun drove immediately to the area. Upon arrival, the officer sped toward who he thought was the gunman, but turned out to be a teacher not the suspect. In doing so, the officer drove past the suspect who was hiding behind parked cars, McCraw said.

11:32 a.m.: The gunman fires multiple rounds at the exterior of the school.

At one point, students heard banging on a window before their teacher saw the shooter with a "big gun," a fourth grade student who was inside the school at the time said in an interview with ABC News, describing the "nonstop" gunshots that followed.

11:33 a.m.: Ramos enters Robb Elementary through its west entrance -- the same one propped open by the teacher moments earlier, McCraw said Friday. After entering the building, Ramos walks approximately 20 to 30 feet before turning right down a corridor. After walking an additional 20 feet, Ramos enters a classroom door to his left.

He enters either classroom 111 or 112 and immediately fires more than 100 rounds at students and teachers. The two classrooms are connected internally.

11:35 a.m.: Three Uvalde Police Department officers enter the school using the same door as the shooter. They were later followed by three other Uvalde police officers and a county deputy sheriff, authorities said. A total of seven officers are in the school and two sustain "grazing wounds" from the gunman, who is firing down the hallway from behind a closed door, McCraw said Friday.

11:37-11:44 a.m: The shooter continues firing rounds at intervals, officials said.

11:43 a.m.: Robb Elementary School posts to Facebook that the campus has gone under lockdown "due to gunshots in the area."

11:51 a.m.: The police sergeant and additional officers arrive on scene.

12:03 p.m.: More officers continue to arrive in the hallway. There was as many as 19 officers at that time in the hallway, McCraw said.

12:03 p.m.: A 911 call is made from room 112 that lasts 23 seconds.

12:10 p.m.: The first group of deputy U.S. Marshals from Del Rio, nearly 70 miles away, arrives on site.

12:10 p.m.: The first 911 caller calls back and says there are multiple dead in the classroom, authorities said.

12:13 p.m.: The 911 caller calls again.

12:16 p.m.: The 911 caller calls again and says eight to nine students are still alive.

12:17 p.m.: Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announces the shooting on Twitter.

12:19 p.m.: A call is made by someone else from room 111. The caller hangs up when another student told her to, McCraw said.

12:21 p.m.: The gunman fires again at the classroom door, forcing officers in the building to reposition themselves down the hallway away from the door.

12:21 p.m.: The caller in room 111 calls again and three shots are heard over the 911 call.

12:30 p.m.: Uvalde Fire Department scanner traffic says "additional firemen need to respond to Mill Street to establish a perimeter to assist Uvalde EMS and Uvalde PD."

12:36 p.m.: Another 911 call is made by the initial caller and it lasts for 21 seconds. The "student caller" was told to stay on the line and be very quiet. She tells 911 that the gunman shot the door, McCraw said.

12:43 p.m.: The 911 caller inside room 112 asks for police to be sent in.

12:46 p.m.: The 911 caller inside room 112 says she can hear police officers next door.

12:47 p.m.: The 911 caller inside room 112 again asks for police to be sent in.

12:50 p.m.: Officers from the Border Patrol tactical unit breach the classroom door using a set of keys acquired from a school janitor. Officers shoot and kill Ramos in the classroom. Officers then immediately engage in a "rescue operation," officials said Thursday.

1:06 p.m.: Police report that the suspected shooter was killed by officers at the scene after they broke into the classroom.

ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman, Matthew Fuhrman and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What we know about the victims of the Texas school shooting in Uvalde so far

Courtesy of Lydia Martinez Delgado

(UVALDE, Texas) -- A fourth-grade teacher, several sets of cousins and a 10-year-old boy whose family called him "the life of the party" were among those killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, ABC News has learned.

At least 19 children and two teachers were killed after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The alleged gunman -- identified by officials as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School -- is dead, authorities said.

"When parents drop their kids off at school, they have every expectation to know that they're going to be able to pick their child up when that school day ends. And there are families who are in mourning right now," Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters.

Here's what we know about the victims so far.

Layla Salazar

Layla Salazar was among the victims in the shooting, her father, Vincent Salazar, told The Associated Press.

He would play "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses as he drove her to school each morning and Layla would sing along.

Julien Salazar, Layla's brother, described her to the AP as "positive" and "energetic."

"She was so happy," he said. "She was so free of life. She was sweet."

Tess Mata, 10

The family of Tess Mata confirmed to ABC News that the 10-year-old was killed in the shooting.

With every school shooting that plagued the country, the family never thought it could happen in their small town.

"Every time we would see another mass shooting on the news we would say, 'that won’t happen here,'" Tess' mother, Veronica Mata, told ABC News. "That could never happen here. Not in Uvalde."

Veronica Mata said now her daughter is gone and she "will never get to hold her again."

Alithia Ramirez, 10

ABC News learned that Alithia Ramirez was one of the students killed.

“She was a very talented little girl,” Rosa Maria Ramirez, the grandmother of Alithia, told ABC News. “She loved to draw.”

The Uvalde school district website features an illustration drawn by Ramirez, which was among the winners of a bullying prevention poster contest. The drawing is entitled, "Kindness Takes Courage," according to an image of the drawing on the district website.

Uziyah Garcia

Uziyah Garcia died in the shooting, his family confirmed to ABC News.

His grandfather, Manny Renfro, described Uziyah to The Associated Press as "the sweetest little boy that I've ever known."

"I'm not just saying that because he was my grandkid," said Renfro, who last saw his grandson when he visited San Angelo during spring break.

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Makenna Lee Elrod was one of the students killed Tuesday, her aunt, Allison McCullough, confirmed to ABC News.

Makenna loved to play softball, do gymnastics, loved to dance and sing, play with fidget toys and spend time with her family, McCullough said. She loved animals and "made friends everywhere she went," her aunt said.

"Her smile would light up a room," she said. Makenna loved to write notes to her family and leave them in hidden places to be found later, her aunt said. Makenna was a natural leader and loved school. She loved going to the ranch with her dad to feed animals and ride on the ranger.

McCullough described her niece as "a light to all who knew her."

"She loved her family and friends so much," she said.

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11, and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos -- cousins who attended Robb Elementary School -- were both killed in the shooting, a family member confirmed to ABC News.

"They were nothing but loving baby angels, always had a smile on their face just full of life," their cousin said in a statement to ABC News. "I can't believe this happened to our angels."

The cousin said the family's grandpa passed away two weeks ago.

"So much loss in so little time," the cousin said.

Rojelio Torres, 10

Rojelio Torres' mother, Evadulia Orta, confirmed to ABC News her son died in the shooting. She described the 10-year-old fourth-grader as a "very smart and loving child."

Orta, a mother of four, said she is trying to stay strong for the rest of her children, but added, "I lost a piece of my heart."

Standing beside her twin sister, Orta told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the shooting has not only devastated her entire family but her entire community as well.

"We are praying for everyone, all the children and all the families," she said.

Annabell Rodriguez, 10, and Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10

Cousins Annabell Rodriguez and Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares were killed in the mass shooting, their aunt, Polly Flores, confirmed to ABC News.

The two cousins were in the same fourth-grade class at Robb Elementary School, Flores said.

Jacklyn's father, Jacinto Cazares, told ABC News his daughter "had the biggest heart."

"My little girl was full of life and touched so many people," he said. "Jackie was the one that would go out of her way to help anyone. It gives me some comfort, that she would be the little cracker that would have done something to help her classmates in that very scary scenario."

Eliahana Cruz Torres

Eliahana Cruz Torres died in the Tuesday shooting, her grandfather Adolfo Cruz confirmed to ABC News. Her death was confirmed to the family late Tuesday night.

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Amerie Jo Garza's father, Angel Garza, told ABC News that his daughter just turned 10 on May 10. Garza met with U.S. Marshals Tuesday night, who informed him that his daughter had been killed in the shooting at her elementary school.

"Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby," Garza wrote in a statement to ABC News. "She's been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above. Please don't take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me."

Xavier James Lopez, 10

Fourth grader Xavier James Lopez died in the school shooting, his family confirmed to ABC News.

According to his cousin, Xavier's mom was at his awards ceremony one to two hours prior to the shooting, not knowing it would be the last time she would see him.

His grandmother, Amelia Sandoval, told ABC News Tuesday night that Xavier was the "life of the party" and loved to dance and play baseball. He had just made the honor roll.

"You send your kids to school thinking they are coming home," Sandoval said, her voice choking up. "And then they're not."

"We loved him very much and he will be greatly missed," she said.

Eva Mireles

Eva Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher at the elementary school, was killed in the shooting, her aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, confirmed to ABC News. She had been a teacher in the school district for approximately 17 years, Delgado said.

"I'm furious that these shooting continue. These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all," Delgado said. "This is my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially to loved ones."

"All we can do is pray hard for our country, state, schools and especially the families of all," she said.

Amber Ybarra, the cousin of Mireles' husband, called the teacher a "hero" and an "amazing mom."

"She was just very adventurous and courageous and vivacious and could light up a room," Ybarra told ABC News. "She's going to be missed."

Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia was a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary who died in the shooting, her family confirmed to ABC News.

According to the district's website, Garcia had been teaching for 23 years at the school. She also was a co-teacher with Eva Mireles in the same classroom for five years.

Compounding the family's grief, Garcia's husband, Joe, died on Thursday after suffering a massive heart attack, the family said.

Irma and Joe Garcia were about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, their family said. The two had known each other since eighth grade and have four children together.

"I love to BBQ with my husband, listen to music, and take country cruises to Concan," Irma Garcia appeared to have written on the school district's website.

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

A family member confirmed that 10-year-old Navaeh Bravo was killed in the shooting.

Ellie Garcia

Ellie’s mother confirmed to ABC News that she is one of the victims killed in the shooting.

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, a honor student at Robb Elementary school was killed in the attack on the same day she received a good citizen award from her school, according to her family.

Just hours before she was killed, a smiling Alexandria posed with her parents after receiving a certificate for being a straight A student, her family said.

"My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll," the girl's mother, Kimberly Mata-Rubio wrote on Facebook the day her daughter died. "She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye."

Maite Rodriguez, 10

In an interview with The Associated Press, Maite's mother said, "She was charismatic. She was goal-driven. She was ambitious. She was determined. She was focused. She was competitive, smart, bright, beautiful, happy."

"Why I want the world to know?" Maite's mother added. "Because I don't want her just to be another kid. I don't want her just to be another face. I don't want any of those kids to be just another face. Each one of them has a story to tell. And this just horrendous act just cut everything short for them."

Maranda Mathis, 11

Maranda Mathis is one of the victims, her mother confirmed to ABC News. Maranda’s brother Bruce, a second grader, was also at the school but was not injured.

Jose Flores, 10

Christopher Salazar, an uncle of Jose Flores, wrote on Facebook: "I love you and miss you."

ABC News' Anthony McMahon, Alyssa Pone and Mireya Villarreal contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What went wrong as police in Uvalde waited to breach classroom

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- Steven McCraw, director of Texas DPS, admitted it was the "wrong decision" for officers not to go into the classroom where the suspect was for 35 minutes after a tactical unit arrived.
The head of law enforcement in Texas revealed a cascading series of police missteps in the response to one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation's history.

A visibly shaken Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted that mistakes were made on the ground during an active shooter incident at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed by a heavily armed gunman.

The missteps began before the shooting, when a Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police officer responding to a 911 call of a man with a gun on the school campus drove past the suspect, who was "hunkered down" behind a car in the school parking lot, McCraw said.

The gunman fired at the school multiple times before entering through a door left propped open by a teacher at 11:33 a.m., walked into a classroom and began firing more than 100 rounds, according to McCraw.

Minutes later, several Uvalde Police Department officers entered the building and were shot at from behind the closed classroom door. By 12:03 p.m., there were as many as 19 officers in the hallway, McCraw said.

As the officers were outside the door, the incident commander -- the chief of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police -- wrongly believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooting to a situation where the suspect had stopped firing, barricaded himself in a classroom and no longer posed a risk to children, McCraw said.

"He thought there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point," McCraw said. "That was the decision, that was the thought process."

The Customs and Border Protection's tactical team arrived on scene at 12:15 p.m. but did not breach the classroom until 35 minutes later, at 12:50 p.m., according to McCraw.

"Of course it wasn’t the right decision," McCraw said. "It was the wrong decision."

McCraw said there may have been a belief by the incident commander that no one was alive inside the classrooms. But he detailed 911 calls from students and teachers that made clear they were still in grave danger. It appears that information may not have been relayed to officers on the ground.

Multiple calls came in from inside the classroom, including from a teacher at 12:03 p.m., 12:10 p.m., 12:13 p.m. and 12:16 p.m. -- during which she said there were eight to nine students who were alive, according to McCraw.

Several other calls were made at 12:19 p.m., 12:21 p.m., 12:36 p.m. and 12:43 p.m. by students, he said.

The callers were blunt. In whispered tones one said, "He shot the door," and then, "Please send the police now," according to McCraw.

At 12:50 p.m., officers breached the locked doors using keys that they were able to get from the janitor and shot and killed the gunman, McCraw said.

McCraw admitted Friday that the decision to wait was "wrong."

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision...it was the wrong decision. Period," he said. "But again, I wasn't there, but I'm just telling you from what we know, we believe there should have been an entry at that -- as soon as you can."

Active shooter protocols dictate that officers find and target the shooter immediately, he said.

"You don't have to wait on tactical gear," he said. "If the shooting continues, and you have any reason to believe that there's individuals alive in there, you've got an obligation to move back to an active shooter posture and that means everybody, everybody at the door."

As part of its ongoing investigation of Tuesday's massacre, the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a review of law enforcement actions, ABC News has learned.

That could include anything from why the Uvalde ISD officer initially drove past the gunman to whether 911 caller information was relayed properly to officers at the scene to why the incident commander wrongly believed different protocols should apply, resulting in the 35-minute delay of the tactical team breach.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

East Coast on alert for tornadoes as Memorial Day weekend begins

Chad Warpinski / EyeEm/ Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The East Coast is bracing for flooding and tornadoes as Memorial Day weekend begins.

A tornado watch was issued Friday from North Carolina to Virginia to Maryland. The tornado watch includes the cities of Raleigh, Richmond, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Significant storm damage has been reported in parts of Bedford County, Virginia, after severe thunderstorms rolled through. It hasn't yet been determined if the damage was from a tornado or powerful wind gusts.

Friday afternoon and evening, strong storms will stretch from New York City to the Carolinas, bringing a threat of damaging winds, blinding downpours, flash flooding and more tornadoes.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for parts of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.

Flood watches are in effect from Virginia to New Jersey, including D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The Heartland could also see severe weather this holiday weekend.

Damaging winds, huge hail and tornadoes are possible from Oklahoma to Nebraska to Minnesota to Wisconsin.

This severe weather could disrupt Memorial Day travel.

About 39.2 million people are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend -- up 8.3% from last year, according to AAA.

More than 12.4 million people are expected to fly between May 26 and May 30, according to online travel-booking platform Hopper.

ABC News' Amanda Maile contributed to this report.

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'Time is the number-one enemy': Did police in Uvalde ignore their own training?

Jesse Ortiz

(UVALDE, Texas) -- Two months before Tuesday's mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead, the Uvalde school district hosted an all-day training session for local police and other school-based law enforcement officers focused on "active shooter response."

"First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm's way," according to a lengthy course description posted online by the Texas agency that developed the training. "Time is the number-one enemy during active shooter response. ... The best hope that innocent victims have is that officers immediately move into action to isolate, distract or neutralize the threat, even if that means one officer acting alone."

Now relatives of victims and neighbors of Uvalde's Robb Elementary School are raising questions over how police officers who first arrived on the scene handled the situation -- including whether they followed their own training.

At a press conference on Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw acknowledged that officers on the scene miscalculated what was unfolding, failing to go after the gunman sooner.

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course it wasn't the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period," he said.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the DPS, Lt. Chris Olivarez, said on national TV that at one point on Tuesday, police officers on the scene decided to "focus" on evacuating students and teachers "around the school," instead of racing to the shooter's location -- even as they heard more gunshots.

"They kept hearing the gunfire as they were doing this, as they were performing these rescues," Olivarez said Wednesday on CBS.

ABC News contributor John Cohen, formerly the top counterterrorism official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and himself a former police officer, said that response "would seem to be inconsistent with accepted practice."

"What we are hearing from Texas law enforcement officials seems to be inconsistent with the operational philosophy that has guided the response to active shooter situations for well over a decade," Cohen said. "Having been a police officer, it's a scary job -- but what the public expects is that when confronted with those situations, the officer is going to do what they need to do in order to protect the public."

A man who lives across the street from Robb Elementary School, Jesse Ortiz, told ABC News that he watched on Tuesday as officers took cover behind a vehicle.

"I said, 'Why aren't you going inside? Why aren't you going inside?'" he recalled.

Videos posted online show angry parents outside the school, urging police officers to take more action.

In the wake of the 1999 high school shooting in Columbine, Colorado, where 12 students and one teacher were killed, federal and state law enforcement officials developed new practices for equipping and training first responders. As a result, Cohen said, it has become "generally accepted" that the first officers on-scene must find and "engage" the shooter as soon as possible, even if that means putting their own lives at risk.

In 2019, the International Association of Chiefs of Police's policy center published an "issues paper" on active-shooter situations, which noted that "current thinking reemphasizes that, given proper justification as defined by law and agency policy, taking immediate action during active shooter incidents, rather than waiting for specially equipped and trained officers, can save lives and prevent serious injuries."

"[I]t has been recognized that even one or two armed officers can make a difference in the outcome of active shootings by taking swift, but calculated, individual or coordinated action," the paper said. "Time lost by delayed action is likely to result in additional casualties."

Over the past decade, law enforcement officers in cities and states across the country have received training reflecting such policies, according to Cohen. The course that the Uvalde school district hosted in March was developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which oversees the certification of police officers throughout the state and requires school-based officers to take the "active shooter response" course.

On Thursday, a top Texas Department of Public Safety official held a press conference seeking to clarify what unfolded two days earlier -- though he didn't answer some key questions.

Victor Escalon, director of the DPS South Texas Region, told reporters that about four minutes after the shooter first entered the school, "initial officers" on scene "receive[d] gunfire" and "[didn't] make entry initially because of the gunfire." At that point, officers call for "additional resources," including tactical teams, body armor, and other equipment, and they also begin evacuating students and teachers, Escalon said.

It was "a complex situation" with "a lot going on," Escalon said. About an hour after the shooter first opened fire inside the school, a tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol arrived, entered the school with other law enforcement, and then killed the shooter, according to Escalon.

Toward the end of the press conference, a reporter asked Escalon, "Did you follow best practices for active shooter scenarios?"

Escalon didn't answer, instead telling reporters, "I have taken all your questions into consideration ... we will answer those questions."

In 2014, the FBI released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that had occurred since 2000. It highlighted "the damage that can occur in a matter of minutes," noting that the vast majority of active shooter incidents ended in five minutes or less -- and more than a third of those whose durations could be ascertained ended in two minutes or less.

"Officers need to operate in a way that not only protects their safety, because a dead officer is not going to [help], but at the same time, the absolute number-one priority for a law enforcement officer responding to the scene is to ... prevent people from being killed or injured," Cohen said.

"That's why they're there," said Cohen. "That's why they took the oath."

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Funerals for Buffalo shooting victims continue as nation grapples with gun violence

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- They were grandparents, parents, friends and family, and even as the nation grapples with another mass shooting, the victims of the Buffalo, New York, shooting continue to be laid to rest this weekend.

As families continue to grieve the May 14 tragedy, four victims will be laid to rest over the next several days.

Geraldine Talley, 62

Talley is remembered by her friends and family "as a beautiful spirit, her dimpled smile and immense love for her family."

She loved spending time with family, sitting by the water and baking, according to her obituary. Celebrated by a long line of children, siblings, nieces and nephews, she will be laid to rest on Friday at the Mount Aaron Missionary Baptist Church in Buffalo.

Talley was one of nine siblings and was "an amazing sister, mother, aunt," Kaye Chapman-Johnson, her younger sister, told ABC News. "She just was truly an amazing woman. And I'm going to miss her dearly."

Andre Mackniel, 53

Mackniel was a Buffalo native and a stay-at-home dad who loved to play the guitar, write poems, listen to music and watch basketball, according to his obituary.

He is survived by his fiancee Tracey Maciuliwicz, as well as their son, Andre Jr. His family and friends will gather at the Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo on Friday to celebrate his life.

Margus Morrison, 52

Services will be held for Morgan on Friday at True Bethel Baptist Church.

In a text message, Cassandra Demps, his stepdaughter, told ABC News that he was "a great father, wonderful partner" who was "funny" and "always willing to help his family."

Morrison is "a soul that will always be missed," she added.

Ruth Whitfield, 86

Whitfield, the eldest victim of the Buffalo tragedy, will be the last victim laid to rest when it takes place Sunday.

She is survived by many loved ones, including her partner of 68 years, Garnell W. Whitfield, Sr.; her four children, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, five great-great-grandchildren and seven siblings.

Garnell Whitfield, her son, described his mother's devotion to her family, especially her husband, whose health has been declining over the past eight years.

"She was there just about every day, taking care of him, making sure he was well cared for by the staff, washing, ironing his clothes, making sure he was dressed appropriately, making sure his nails were cut and clean and shaved," he said. "All of that. Every day."

After suffering "a very difficult childhood," when she became a mother, Ruth Whitfield "was all about family," Garnell Whitfield said.

"And she rose above it, and she raised us in spite of all of that, being very poor," he said. "She raised us to be productive men and women."

Her homegoing service will be held on Saturday at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo.

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Five dead, two hurt in Pennsylvania house explosion: Officials


(POTTSTOWN, Pa.) -- Five people were killed and two others were hurt in a house explosion in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Thursday night, officials said.

Four of the five victims killed were children, ABC Philadelphia station WPVI reported.

One of the injured is in critical but stable condition, while the second surviving victim is in surgery for unknown injuries, Pottstown Borough Manager Justin Keller said at a Friday press conference.

Two homes are completely destroyed and other homes suffered damage, he said.

It's not yet clear what caused the explosion, which took place just after 8 p.m. on North Washington Street, Keller said.

It's believed everyone has been accounted for, Keller said.

Resident Christian Gonzalez told WPVI he initially thought the explosion was thunder.

"It shook the area," he said.

Pottstown schools are closed Friday in the wake of the deadly incident.

Pottstown is located about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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Orphaned children of teacher killed in Texas elementary school shooting attend church service

Uvalde CISD

(UVALDE, Texas) -- The four children of Irma and Joe Garcia turned to their faith and community as they attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday night.

Cristian, Jose, Lyliana and Alysandra Garcia were embraced by Rev. Eduardo Morales and parishioners.

Irma was one of two teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde on Tuesday. The family’s patriarch, Joe Garcia, suffered a fatal heart attack earlier Thursday, just two days after his wife was shot to death, his family confirmed.

“They were good church-going people, always willing to help, always seeing what they could do to be there for the community, not only their children, and I hope that we remember how giving they were, how loving they were," Morales told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV of the Garcias.

The couple were supposed to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary later this year.

Irma Garcia was a fourth grade teacher at Robb Elementary School and had been teaching for the last 23 years. She and her husband had been married for 24 years, according to a biography page on the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District website.

She died Tuesday, after a gunman entered the school and opened fire, killing Garcia, co-teacher Eva Mireles and at least 19 children, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

As the Uvalde community continues to reel from the aftermath of the mass shooting, faith leaders have sprung into action, reaching out to support the local community. A Lutheran organization has also sent trained comfort dogs to Uvalde, a city about 84 miles west of San Antonio, after being invited to respond following Tuesday’s tragedy.

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Student who survived Texas school shooting recalls gunman saying: 'You're all gonna die'

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(UVALDE, Texas) -- There was blood in the hallway and children were covered in it, one of the students who survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, told ABC News.

"[The shooter] came in and said, 'You're all gonna die,' and just started shooting," Samuel Salinas, 10, recalled in an interview airing Friday on "Good Morning America."

Salinas was a student in Irma Garcia's fourth-grade class. They were scheduled to graduate Thursday, but the ceremony was canceled because Garcia, another teacher and 19 third- and fourth-grade students were killed in Tuesday's massacre. Another 17 people were wounded, including three law enforcement officers.

The gunman, Salvador Ramos, allegedly purchased two assault rifles just days after turning 18 and used them to carry out the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history, killing 21 people, according to authorities.

Some of the children and teachers who walked into school that day had no idea it would be their last.

'It was a normal day until...'

Salinas, whose mother died in a car accident in 2019, said his aunt dropped him off for school on Tuesday morning.

"It was a normal day until my teacher said we're on severe lockdown," he told ABC News, "and then there was shooting in the windows."

Salinas said the gunman came into his classroom, closed the door and told them, "You're all going to die," before opening fire.

"He shot the teacher and then he shot the kids," Salinas said, recalling the cries and yells of students around him.

"I think he was aiming at me," Salinas said, but a chair was between him and the shooter, and the bullet hit the chair. Shrapnel struck Salinas' thigh and got lodged in his leg. Then he pretended to be dead, he said.

"I played dead so he wouldn't shoot me," he added, noting that a lot of other children did the same.

A cellphone in one of the student's desks started ringing, and as the girl was trying to silence it, Salinas heard gunshots. Police engaged the gunman and then moved desks out of the way to free the children, he said.

As police rushed him out of the room, Salinas said he saw the bodies of his teacher and other students.

"There was blood on the ground," he recalled. "And there were kids [...] full of blood."

Nightmares and fear

Now, Salinas said, he has nightmares of the shooter and of being shot.

When asked how it felt to join the growing list of school shooting victims, Salinas said the idea of going to fifth grade is simply overwhelming.

"Whenever there's a lockdown, then I'll be really scared," he told ABC News, fighting back tears.

Even the idea of reuniting with his friends who survived the shooting was too much for the 10-year-old to think about.

"I'm not looking forward to it," he said. "I'm just going to stay home and rest."

His father, Chris Salinas, sat quietly beside him as he recounted the experience. It was the first time he had heard the details of his son’s encounter and it nearly brought him to tears.

The one message the fourth-grader said he has for his fellow surviving classmates at Robb Elementary School: "I'm glad you're alive."

ABC News' Lisa Sivertsen in Los Angeles and Izzy Alvarez in Uvalde contributed to this report.

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Father of Sandy Hook shooting victim speaks out after Texas killings

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(NEW YORK) -- When Carlos Soto saw a state police officer walking toward him with his head down, on that fateful day of Dec. 14, 2012, after a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, he “already knew that she was gone.”

Soto's daughter, Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook, died in the deadly school rampage that killed six adults and 20 children.

“That day was the hardest day of my life,” he told ABC News' "Start Here" host Brad Mielke.

Soto shared his grief as a father two days after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults.

The mass shootings in Uvalde and Newtown, separated by less than a decade, are among the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

“Today we send our kids to school and we don’t know if they’ll be safe,” said Soto.

Soto and his family have since gone on to create a scholarship fund in honor of Victoria, organize an annual 5K for teachers in her memory, and, in 2014, they joined the lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington Arms, who manufactured the Bushmaster AR-15 that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting, settled with the families this year for $73 million.

Soto also has made a point to speak with other parents who have lost children to school shootings. He told ABC News’ Mielke that parents ask, “Carlos, how can you do it?”

“My daughter is gone,” he said, “but she is always by my heart telling me what to say and what to do. She passed the torch to me.”

It doesn’t get easier, he said.

“The best way is to talk about it. Don't keep it inside of you” he said, “because it will eat you up. You have to keep going forward.”

Soto became impassioned when the conversation turned to the political influence of gun manufacturers who lobby the government to prevent gun control legislation.

“The only way it’s gonna be changed,” he said, "is if we take our vote and remove these people out of there.”

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