An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school Tuesday, killing at least 19 people — including 18 kids and a teacher — before he was shot dead by police in one of the deadliest school slaughters in US history, officials said.
The shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, allegedly shot and killed his grandmother before heading to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with two assault rifles around 11:32 a.m. local time, according to officials.
The crime spree — eerily evocative of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that left 26 dead — took place just two days from the end of the school year and sent parents scrambling in a mad search for their children.
“This is just evil,” Rey Chapa, whose nephew attends the school that hosts 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, told the New Yorkbu Times. “I’m afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed.”
Brandon Elrod told ABC 13 he was searching for his 10-year-old daughter.
“She may not be alive,” he said.
Choking back tears, he then asked a journalist at the scene where the nearest funeral home was, “’cause we can’t find my daughter.”
“Pretty sad, really sad, what this world’s coming to,” he added.
Police officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, US Customs and Border Protection and a slew of local agencies descended on the tiny town located about 60 miles east of the Mexico border to respond to the shooting, which has left residents reeling.
“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
“Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss and we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering. We thank the courageous first responders who worked to finally secure Robb Elementary School.”
Tuesday’s shooting was one of the worst school massacres in US history — in 2012, 20 first graders and six educators were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The gunman in that case, Adam Lanza, gunned down his mother in bed before opening fire at the school.
Thirty-two people died in a shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007.
Tuesday’s attack also comes on the heels the Buffalo, New York supermarket shooting, where 10 people died.
Abbott, speaking during an unrelated press conference in Abilene, said Ramos abandoned his vehicle and entered the school before “horrifically” and “incomprehensibly” slaughtering more than a dozen students and a teacher before he was killed by responding officers.
Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez told CNN 20 people in total were killed and two assault rifles, which the gunman had purchased on his 18th birthday, were used in the massacre.
At 11:43 a.m., about 11 minutes after cops say the shooting began, Robb Elementary School officials wrote on Facebook the building was placed on lockdown “due to gunshots in the area” – but insisted that children were safe inside.
“The students and staff are safe in the building. The building is secure in a Lockdown Status. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus,” the Facebook post reads.
“As soon as the Lockdown Status is lifted you will be notified. Thank you for your cooperation!”
But approximately 30 minutes later, school officials wrote on Facebook that an “active shooter” was in the building. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday night how Ramos got inside amid the lockdown.
In addition to the deaths, at least another 15 kids, two adults and two officers who responded to the shooting were injured in the melee, according to hospital officials and Abbott.
Fourteen children and one adult with minor injuries were taken to Uvalde Medical Center, the hospital’s CEO Tom Nordwick told The Post.
By the evening, some of those injured were already being discharged and three had been transferred to hospitals in San Antonio, Nordwick said, declining to provide information on the patient’s conditions.
A 10-year-old girl and 66-year-old woman, both in critical condition, were taken to University Health San Antonio, the only Level 1 trauma center for both adults and children in the region.
The two officers who were also wounded “have no serious injuries,” Abbott said.
The Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District have released few details about the shooting. During an evening press conference, school district officials and the district’s chief of police Pete Arredondo read a short statement that didn’t address the number of casualties. They declined to answer questions.
“I can confirm right now that we have several injuries, adults and students, and we do have some deaths,” Arredondo said.
“DPS is assisting with the investigation and at this point the investigation is leading to tell us that the suspect did act alone during this heinous crime.
“We do want to keep all their families in our prayers. I hope you do as well and we also want to respect the privacy of the family. The crime scene is still being worked on and again we’ll notify the parents and the families as soon as we have some news for them.”
The shooter, who Abbott said was a US citizen who attended Uvalde High School, had a purported Instagram account that included one brooding selfie and numerous pictures of firearms and ammunition.
In one post, he tagged a woman in an image of two rifles and then messaged her: “Be grateful I tagged you.”
The woman, who shared the purported exchanges on her own account, claims she did not know the shooter and replied back confused, asking why he was tagging her in snaps of guns.
Then on Tuesday morning, the account cryptically messaged her, “I’m about to” and then, a few hours later, “I got a little secret.”
When the woman questioned what he meant, he said he’d tell her “before 11″ but the woman fell asleep before she could answer the messages.
“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 [this] crime,” the woman later wrote in an Instagram story post.
“He’s a stranger I know nothing about him he decided to tag me in his gun post. I’m so sorry for the victims and their families I really don’t know what to say.”