Nineteen children and two adults were killed on Tuesday after a teenage gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde city of Texas, the BBC reported.
The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was also killed, according to Reuters. The motive for the attack is not yet known.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that two police officers were also wounded during the shooting, though their injuries were not serious, according to The New York Times. “He shot and killed horrifically, incomprehensibly,” Abbott said, adding that a teacher was among those killed.
Texas Public Safety Department Sergeant Erick Estrada told CNN that Ramos shot his grandmother before heading to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with two military-style rifles and body armour.
The attack took place ten days after ten people were killed in a racially-motivated shooting at a supermarket in New York’s Buffalo city. The authorities had said that most of the residents shot at were Black.
The shooting in Texas was also one of the deadliest attacks at an American school since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, in a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.
Calls for action to stem gun violence
After Tuesday’s attack, United States President Joe Biden called for strengthening the gun laws in the country.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen elsewhere in the world,” Biden said during an address from the White House. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it?”
The president also urged the nation to pray for the families of those killed in the attack.
“Tonight, there are parents who will never see their child again,” Biden said. “Parents who will never be the same. To lose a child is to have a piece of your soul ripped away forever.”
First Lady Jill Biden, herself a teacher, said in a tweet, “Lord, enough. Little children and their teacher. Stunned. Angry. Heartbroken.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said that the White House was monitoring the situation closely.
“Our hearts keep getting broken,” she added, according to CNN. “Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families. And, yet, it keeps happening. Enough is enough.”
Former US President Barack Obama said that “it’s long past time for action” on gun violence. He blamed the Republicans for preventing any action.
“Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook – and 10 days after Buffalo – our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies,” Obama said.
The United States reported 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35% over 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 10. The Gun Violence Archive, a US-based non-profit group, said that the country recorded 212 mass shootings so far this year, Al Jazeera reported.
High-powered assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols are cheaper in the US and more widely available than ever despite recurring mass shootings.