This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — A new report issued by the Texas House’s investigative committee on the Robb Elementary shooting shows scathing details about the shooter’s past, and the ones around him who, months before the massacre, were labeling him a “school shooter.”
The committee chose not to name the attacker in the report because he sought notoriety. “The Committee refuses to perpetuate his memory in that way; our focus is to ensure that Texas never forgets the children and beloved teachers who have been lost and the lessons this tragedy can teach.”
Because of that, this article will reflect that same choice.
The findings show his peers suspected something was off, but he didn’t have a record, so he went undetected by law enforcement ahead of the shooting.
His early years
The attacker was born in Fargo, North Dakota on May 16, 2004. Relatives described the attacker as shy and quiet.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed a former girlfriend of the attacker, who believed a boyfriend of the shooter’s mother had sexually assaulted him at an early age, but his mother didn’t believe his outcry.
His Pre-K teacher’s report described him as, “a pleasure to have … a wonderful student … always ready to learn.” Things quickly took a turn as his elementary years progressed.
By third grade, school officials already had identified him as “at-risk” due to consistently poor test results
School records reveal someone may have requested speech therapy for him, and his later internet searches show he himself sought information on dyslexia. Ultimately, he received no special education services throughout his education.
The shooting took place in his former fourth grade classroom, and he discussed bad memories of fourth grade with an acquaintance just weeks before the shooting.
His fourth grade teacher told the committee she knew the attacker needed extra help in her class, because he claimed to be a victim of bullying. She said she believed it was otherwise a good year for the attacker, her classroom serving as a safe place for him
Members of his family say otherwise. They told the committee students bullied him throughout fourth grade for his stutter, clothing and haircut. Family also reported their belief some teachers picked on the attacker. His cousin was in the same class, and reiterated those same points.
Records show declining attendance as he got older, with more than 100 absences a year beginning in 2018, along with failing grades. Even with excessive absences, the committee said it’s unclear whether any school resource officers ever visited the home of the attacker.
The report stated he had almost no disciplinary history at school. His single infraction was for “mutual combat” with another student in 2018, resulting in a three-day suspension.
By 2021, at the age of 17, the attacker had only completed the ninth grade. Uvalde High School involuntarily withdrew him then in October 2021.
The year leading up to the shooting
About halfway through 2021, his relationship with his girlfriend ended. She described him as lonely and depressed, and said his friends constantly teased him, calling him a “school shooter.”
She said he told her repeatedly he wouldn’t live past 18, either because he would commit suicide or simply because he “wouldn’t live long.”
She said he then harassed her and her friends after the breakup.
He began to demonstrate interest in “gore and violent sex,” the report stated, watching and sometimes sharing videos and images of suicides, beheadings and accidents.
Those who played video games with him online said he became enraged when he lost, and often made excessive threats, especially toward female players, who he’d threaten with graphic descriptions of violence and rape.
The attacker wrote about his difficulty connecting to others, and said he was “not human.” He called others “human” in a derogatory way.
His internet records show he may have wondered if he was a sociopath and searched for information on the condition. Those searches even resulted in him receiving an email about how to seek psychological treatment for sociopathy.
In late 2021, the report stated he shared a video online of himself being driven around by someone he met on the internet, with him holding a plastic bag with a dead cat in it. He then threw the bag onto the street and spit on it, while the driver laughed in the video.
The video concludes with him firing a BB gun without ammunition at people, then footage of first responders on the scene of a serious car accident, which he claimed his driver caused.
He started working at Whataburger in late 2021, where he was fired after a month for threatening a female coworker. He was then fired from his next job at Wendy’s, where a female coworker described him as “not a good person” and “troubled.” He also occasionally worked for his grandpa’s air conditioning business.
The report stated since the attacker lived with his grandma and had no real living expenses, he was able to hoard money and told acquaintances he was “saving for something big,” and they would see him on the news one day.
Family members believed he was saving money for his own place or a car.
At the end of 2021, though, he started purchasing rifle slings, a red dot sight, shin guards and a body armor carrier worn on the day of the mass shooting.
At this time, he was still 17, but he asked at least two other people to buy guns for him. They both refused.
“The attacker developed a fascination with school shootings, of which he made no secret. His comments about them coupled with his wild threats of violence and rape earned him the nickname “Yubo’s school shooter” on that platform.”
Those he personally knew in his local group chat started calling him the “school shooter” after he shared photos of himself wearing the plate carrier he bought, posing with a BB gun, which he tried to convince them was a real gun.
The committee’s report said none of his online behavior was reported to law enforcement. “If it was reported by other users to any social media platform, it does not appear that actions were taken to restrict his access or to report him to authorities as a threat,” the report stated.
The committee’s report stated although a school shooting may have been in the attacker’s mind as early as late 2021, he began pursuing his plan in early 2022 after a falling-out with his mother.
That’s when he livestreamed an argument between the two of them on Instagram, which several family members watched. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call, but made no arrests. Soon after, the attacker moved in with his grandmother.
The report stated his relationship with his mother never improved in the months following. He felt similar antipathy toward his father, who last saw him about a month before the mass shooting. The father noticed the attacker had cuts on his face that appeared to be self-inflicted, and he also claimed he was “doing something” soon.
A few days before the shooting, he confided in his cousin who was also staying at their grandmother’s home, telling her he did not want to live anymore. She said she thought she had gotten through to him after a ‘lengthy heart-to-heart.’
He began buying more firearms accessories beginning in February 2022, including 60 30-round magazines and a holographic weapon sight.
As soon as he turned 18 on May 16, 2022, he was able to legally purchase guns and ammunition. The committee’s report stated an online retailer shipped 1,740 rounds of 5.56mm hollow point to his doorstep. He also bought two AR-15-style rifles along with a full metal jacket.
The owner of the gun store described him as an “average customer with no red flags or suspicious conditions.” He passed the background check. While multiple gun sales within a short period of time are reported to ATF, the law only requires purchases of handguns to be reported to the local sheriff, and these were rifles.
The report stated the shooter had no experience with firearms, and according to interviews with friends and family, the mass shooting was likely the first time he fired a gun.
On April 2, he asked via direct message on Instagram, ““Are you still gonna remember me in 50 something days ?” After the answer, “probably not,” from a user, he responded, “Hmm alright. We’ll see in May.“
When he shared photos of his recent rifle purchases, those in his Snapchat group did not believe the guns were real because of the previous BB gun photo he tried to pass off as a real rifle.
In another conversation with a friend of his who had moved out of Uvalde, the friend told the attacker he was coming to visit him in Uvalde in the summer. “If it’s before May 23rd I’m down,” the attacker wrote. The friend responded, saying it wouldn’t be until July or August, to which the attacker responded, “That’s too late. I’m about to get 2 ARs. Wanna see?” After giving more details, his friend then replied, “Givin me school shooter vibes.”
On the eve of the shooting, the attacker sent a Snapchat message to a German teenager he befriended, saying, “I got a lil secret.” When she inquired, he told her it was “impossible for today” because he was still waiting for something to be delivered by 7 p.m. His order of 1,740 hollow points arrived later that day.
The report concludes this section of what was known about the shooter by stating he had no criminal history, and was not known to have any ideology or political views of any kind. “Private individuals
alone knew the many warning signals,” the report stated.