A teenage gunman killed at least 19 young children and two adults at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, prompting a furious President Joe Biden to denounce the US gun lobby and vow to end the nation’s cycle of mass shootings.
The attack in Uvalde — a small community about an hour from the Mexican border — was the deadliest US school shooting in years, and the latest in a spree of bloody gun violence across America.
“It’s time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country,” Biden said, his voice heavy with emotion. “It’s time for those who obstruct or delay or block commonsense gun laws — we need to let you know that we will not forget,” 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?”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, addressing an earlier news conference, named the suspect as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old local resident and a US citizen. “He shot and killed, horrifically and incomprehensibly,” Abbott said.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials told CNN the gunman is believed to have shot his grandmother before heading to Robb Elementary School around noon where he abandoned his vehicle and entered with a handgun and a rifle, wearing body armor.
The gunman was killed by responding officers, the officials said, adding later two adults also died in the attack.
Footage showed small groups of children weaving through parked cars and yellow buses, some holding hands as they fled under police escort from the school, which teaches students aged around seven to 10 years old.
It was the deadliest such incident since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six staff were killed.
The White House ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in mourning for the victims — whose deaths sent a wave of shock through a country still scarred by the horror of Sandy Hook.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Robb Elementary — which teaches more than 500, mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students — called on parents not to rush in to get their children.
“You will be notified to pick up students once all are accounted for,” the school said on its website soon after the attack.
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