Uvalde shooter fired gun outside elementary school for 12 minutes prior to shooting: authorities

Shots were reportedly fired at funeral home across the street

An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. - An 18-year-old gunman killed 18 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, according to the state's governor, in the nation's deadliest school shooting in years. | ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities say the Uvalde, Texas, shooter fired his gun outside Robb Elementary School for several minutes before going on a shooting rampage that ultimately left 21 dead, including 19 students.

The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, fired his gun outside the school for approximately 12 minutes before making his way onto school grounds, according to The Wall Street Journal

Victor Escalon with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said the shots were fired at a funeral home across the street from Robb Elementary. Ramos is then believed to have scaled a fence onto school grounds.

Escalon couldn't explain why Ramos was not stopped from entering the school during that 12-minute window.

"We got a crash and a man with a gun, and then you have responding officers. That's what it is, if that's 12 minutes," he said, according to NBC News. "At the end of the day, our job is to report the facts and have those answers. We're not there yet."  

The majority of shots fired by Ramos occurred in the first few minutes of the shooting, according to Escalon.

Authorities laid out a timeline where Ramos first began his spree early Tuesday morning. He allegedly shot his grandmother in the face before taking her truck and driving to the school, located about 90 miles west of San Antonio.

Ramos crashed the truck into a ditch near the school just before 11:30 a.m., according to Escalon.

Despite an initial statement from DPS that Ramos was confronted by an armed school officer upon his arrival at the campus, Escalon told the Journal that information was inaccurate.

"There was not an officer readily available and armed," Escalon was quoted as saying.

Responding law enforcement officers later killed Ramos, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday.

The shooting marks the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and the third-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Questions have been raised about whether responding law enforcement acted quickly after arriving on the scene. Escalon could not say whether officers quickly responded once they got to the scene. 

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told reporters Wednesday that the shooter was at the school for up to an hour before law enforcement entered the classroom.

"It's going to be within like 40 minutes, within an hour," McCraw said, according to NBC News. 

A Texas GOP congressman appeared to backpedal from statements he made Thursday night on Fox News. He said, "the shooter was arrested years ago, four years ago, for having this plan for basically saying, for saying, you know, when I'm a senior in 2022, I am going to shoot up a school."

Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, whose district includes the town of Uvalde, published a statement on social media Friday stating that police "identified credible threats to a local school" and made arrests four years ago. He added that it is "unclear if the shooter was one of the two kids detained."

"There are multiple agencies on the ground and I am getting updated information by the minute. We will continue to revise as we learn more," he wrote.

"If this was not the shooter, we need to find out who these kids are, where they are now, and if they were classmates of the shooter," Gonzales added. "There is a clear need for mental health resources in our community."

Officials have confirmed Ramos sent a private Facebook message indicating he was about to commit the shooting just moments prior, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On Tuesday morning, Ramos reportedly sent a message to a "teenage girl overseas" saying, "I'm going to shoot my grandma" and "I shot my grandma," according to Abbott and an unidentified law enforcement official.

The shooting has revived a national debate over the Second Amendment and has left behind a trail of shock and grief.

A number of victims have been identified on social media: Xavier Lopez, 10; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Uziyah Garcia, 8; Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10; teachers Eva Mireles, 44; and Irma Garcia, 46. 

Six of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas (clockwise): Xavier Lopez, 10; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Uziyah Garcia, 8; Irma Garcia, 46; Eva Mireles, 44; and Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10. | Screenshots: Twitter

Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, told The Associated Press that Xavier was her cousin and he loved life.

"He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today," she said. "He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us."

Academy Award-winning actor and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey took tosocial media to share his heartbreak and called on Americans to "rearrange our values" in response.

"Once again we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us," the "Dallas Buyers Club" actor said.

He urged Americans to ask themselves several questions and urged the country not to accept mass shootings as the norm. 

"What is it that we truly value? How do we repair the problem? What small sacrifices can we individually take today, to preserve a healthier and safer nation, state and neighborhood tomorrow?" he asked.

"As Americans, Texans, mother and fathers, it's time we re-evaluate, and renegotiate our wants from our needs," the father of three continued. "We have to rearrange our values and find a common ground above this devastating American reality that has tragically become our children's issue."

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