A teenage gunman has killed at least 19 children and two adults at a primary school in the US state of Texas, officials said, in the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of mass shootings, reports Thecitypulsenews.
Governor Greg Abbott said one of the two adults killed was a teacher.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Abbott said the 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a small community about 80km (50 miles) west of San Antonio.
Abbott said the gunman – identified as Salvador Ramos, a resident of Uvalde – was killed, apparently by police officers responding to the scene.
“It is believed that he abandoned his vehicle and entered into the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun and he may have also had a rifle, but that is not yet confirmed,” the governor said.
“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” he added.
Speaking from the White House hours later, a visibly shaken President Joe Biden urged people in the US to stand up to the country’s politically powerful gun lobby, which he blamed for blocking enactment of tougher firearms safety laws.
Biden ordered flags flown at half-staff daily until sunset on Saturday in observance of the tragedy.
“As a nation, we have to ask, ‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?’” Biden said on national television, suggesting reinstating a ban on assault-style weapons and other “common sense gun laws.”
Gun violence has been a problem across the US for decades, drawing condemnation and calls for tougher restrictions, especially in the aftermath of mass shootings at schools.
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There were 19,350 firearm homicides in the US in 2020, up nearly 35 percent compared with 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest data.
The country has seen 212 mass shootings so far this year, according to a tally by the Gun Violence Archive, a US non-profit that defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the attacker.
The shooting in Uvalde drew condemnation and sorrow on social media, as well as renewed calls for action to stem gun violence in the US.
“We live in a society where power absolutely refuses to protect our children. How many more kids have to die before power makes radical changes to these horrific conditions?” US author and professor Ibram X Kendi wrote on Twitter.
“We are a broken nation, full of violence. It’s just sickening to think that kids who went to school this morning will not come back home tonight,” said University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) tweeted that “all district and campus activities, after-school programs, and events are canceled” following the deadly attack.