At least 20 killed in Uvalde elementary school shooting
Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported that 18 students and two adults were dead following a shooting on Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Sgt. Erick Estrada, a DPS spokesman, updated the death toll in an interview with CNN.

Estrada explained that the suspect crashed a vehicle in a ditch near the school. He exited the vehicle with a rifle and attempted to enter the school. He was engaged by law enforcement but was able to enter the school. He then entered several classrooms and started shooting.

Meanwhile, in a brief news conference, officials in Uvalde confirmed the 18-year-old gunman is dead and apparently was acting alone. Officials took no questions and gave few details.

Gov. Greg Abbott named the 18-year-old shooter, who is now dead. He lived in Uvalde, and it was not immediately clear how he died. Abbott said the shooter entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle.

“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,” Abbott said. “There are families who are in mourning right now, and the state of Texas is in mourning with them for the reality that these parents are not going to be able to pick up their children.”

Robb Elementary School has an enrollment of just under 600 students. It is part of the Uvalde Consolidated School District.

The district superintendent said that classes at the school were canceled for the rest of the school year, and grief counseling was available on Wednesday morning.

The San Antonio Police Department said it was sending resources to assist with the investigation, including members of SWAT and crime scene investigators.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital said it treated several students in its ER. University Health in San Antonio said it treated at least two patients, one child and one adult. University Hospital reported that the adult, a 66-year-old woman, was in critical condition.

“It is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school. And there is I have no further information about the connection between those two shootings,” Abbott said.

The district said that the city’s civic center will be used as a reunification center. Students were brought to the civic center to meet their guardians.

Uvalde is about 85 miles west of San Antonio and about 70 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Joe Biden ordered flags at the White House and other government buildings to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the Uvalde school shooting.

The tragedy in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, and it added to a grim tally of mass shootings in the state that have been among the deadliest in the U.S. over the past five years.

In 2018, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year before that, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.

The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.

In the years since Sandy Hook, the gun control debate in Congress has waxed and waned. Efforts by lawmakers to change U.S. gun policies in any significant way have consistently faced roadblocks from Republicans and the influence of outside groups such as the NRA.

A year after Sandy Hook, Sens. Joe Manchin a West Virginia Democrat, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, negotiated a bipartisan proposal to expand the nation’s background check system. But as the measure was close to being brought to the Senate floor for a vote, it became clear it would not get enough votes to clear a 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

Then-President Barack Obama, who had made gun control central to his administration’s goals after the Newtown shooting, called Congress’ failure to act “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.