UVALDE, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials on Wednesday provided an update on the Uvalde school shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead, revealing that an additional 17 people were injured in the shooting.
Tuesday in Uvalde, a city about 85 miles west of San Antonio, an 18-year-old man shot and killed 21 people, including 19 children, at an elementary school, according to local officials.
The alleged shooter, identified by Abbott as Salvador Ramos, shot and killed the victims at Robb Elementary School just after 11:30 a.m. There were also 17 other people shot at the school, but Abbott said their injuries are not life-threatening.
”Evil swept across Uvalde yesterday," Abbot said during Wednesday's press conference.
At one point in the news conference, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupted and got into a heated exchange with Abbott and other state officials, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Rep. Dade Phelan.
O'Rourke was eventually taken out of the room after his interruption. Abbott then said there are no words that can be used to heal the broken hearts of the families involved in this shooting.
"We all, every Texan, every American, has a responsibility where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas, we need to focus on the healing and hope that we can provide to those who have suffered unconscionable damage to their lives and loss of life," Abbott said.
Abbott outlined how the shooting unfolded Tuesday, beginning before the suspect arrived at the school.
Abbott said the gunman shot his grandmother in the face before she then contacted the police. After this, he ran away and eventually went to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
Officers with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District approached the gunman and engaged with the gunman before he entered a backdoor in the school. After going down two hallways and into a classroom, officers eventually caught up to him, and a border patrol officer killed the gunman.
“Families are broken apart," Abbott said. "Hearts are forever shattered. All Texans are grieving with the people of Uvalde. And people are rightfully angry about what has happened.”
Abbott said some students were receiving perfect attendance awards when the shooting happened.
“Events like this, they tear the fabric of the community," Abbott said. "Our job is to ensure that the community is not going to be ripped apart. All Texans must come together and support the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.”
All family members of students and faculty from Robb Elementary School have been contact, according to Abbott. He said the Texas Rangers are currently leading the investigation.
A local deputy sheriff's daughter was one of the children killed in the shooting, according to Abbott.
“The reality is as horrible is what happened, it could have been worse," Abbott said. "The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do. They showed amazing courage by running towards gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives. And it is a fact that because of their quick response getting on the scene, being able to respond to the gunman and eliminate the gunman, they were able to save lives. Unfortunately, not enough.”
The gunman used an AR-15 weapon and .223 ammunition. Abbott said he has no known mental health history. Abbott also said the gunman put up three social media posts before the shooting. One said he was going to shoot his grandmother, the second one said he did shoot his grandmother and the final one said he was going to shoot up an elementary school.
"We had a discussion with community leaders, elected officials, and I asked the sheriff and others an open-ended question and got the same answers from the sheriff as well as from the mayor of Uvalde," Abbott said. "The question was: What is the problem here? And they were straightforward and emphatic. They said, we have a problem with mental health illness in this community. And then they elaborated on the magnitude of the mental health challenges that they're facing in the community and the need for more mental health support in this region. I want to make sure everybody understands the mental health services that are available at this time, with me making one clarifying point in advance, that I’m gonna re-double down in the aftermath."
"Whenever anything as shocking and extraordinary and disturbing as this event is occurs, there is an urgent need for everyone affected to access mental health. I cannot be more emphatic then saying with great urgency, everybody in this community, I mean everybody. The victims, the families, friends, the law enforcement involved, but the entire community is in utter shock about this."