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) — As more details emerge following Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, investigators are beginning to piece together a clearer timeline of the shooter’s action leading up to the attack.
Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old from Uvalde, was identified as the suspect responsible for killing at least 19 children and two adults Tuesday. Ramos was killed by responding officers. It marked the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.
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On Wednesday, state leaders, including Gov. Abbott and the Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw released the first timeline of the shooting. Here is what we know so far.
11 a.m. – Gunman shoots his grandmother
Abbott and law enforcement officials said the shooter had attacked and shot his grandmother. Around 11 a.m. — approximately 30 minutes before entering the school — the shooter sent a series of the following messages via direct messages, as clarified by a Meta spokesperson:
- First message: “I’m going to shoot my grandmother”
- Second message: “I shot my grandmother”
- Third message: “I’m going to shoot an elementary school”
Ramos’ grandmother ran across the street to get help and contacted the police. She was taken to a San Antonio hospital where she is reportedly in critical condition, Abbott said.
11:28 a.m. – Gunman crashes in front of Robb Elementary school
The gunman drove to Robb Elementary School in his grandmother’s pickup truck, according to DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon. The shooter wrecked the pickup truck outside of the school and jumped out of the passenger side of the truck, according to witnesses, with a long-arm rifle and a bag, which investigators found out later was filled with ammunition.
The gunman then began shooting at two people who saw the crash from the parking lot of a funeral home located across the street, according to Escalon. The gunman continued walking toward the school, climbed a fence and began shooting at the school multiple times.
The Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw initially said on Wednesday Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police officers “engaged” the shooter before he went into the school. Regional Director Escalon said Thursday that information was “not accurate.”
There was no school police officer readily available and armed on campus at the time of the shooting, according to DPS officials. The Uvalde CISD preventative security measures policy from the 2020-21 school year stated secondary campuses, middle and high schools, have staff who patrol door entrances, parking lots and perimeters of the campuses.
11:33 a.m. – Gunman walks into the backdoor of Robb Elementary
Director Escalon said there is a video showing the shooter walking into the westside of Robb Elementary around 11:40 a.m. Escalon said investigators believe the door to the school was unlocked at the time, but are not sure why considering the school had a locked door policy.
McCraw explained in an update Friday a teacher had propped open the door before the shooter came into the school. The Friday update said the shooter entered the school earlier as well — at 11:33 a.m.
The shooter, according to Escalon, went down the school hallways and into a classroom that had a door open in the middle to another classroom.
“He went down a hallway, turned right and turned left. There were two classrooms that were adjoining and that is where the carnage began,” said DPS Director McCraw during Wednesday’s press conference.
After the gunman entered the school, Escalon said police officers with Uvalde Police Department and Uvalde CISD police department went into Robb Elementary. The officers were shot at by the gunman and moved back to take cover.
“They do not make entry initially because of gunfire they are receiving,” said Escalon. The officers then began calling for body armor, a precision rifleman and other support while evacuating students and teachers from the school.
The New York Times reported, based on a preliminary timeline compiled by Texas law enforcement officials, that most, if not all the 19 children and two adults who lost their lives were shot during the first minutes of the gunman arriving at the school on Tuesday, according to the official.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday frustrated onlookers outside Robb Elementary urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school. The AP also reported a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. According to the Associated Press, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
11:53 a.m. – Law enforcement gathers in hallway
In an update Friday, McCraw said as many as 19 law enforcement officers gathered in the hallway. At this time, responding officers began treating the situation as a barricaded subject, rather than an active shooter.
“Again, the on-scene commander, considered it a barricaded subject and that there was time, and there were no more children at risk. Obviously based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk, and it was in fact still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject,” McCraw said Friday.
He ultimately called this the “wrong decision” and said the classroom where the shooter and children were located should’ve been breached earlier.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was a wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that. But again, I wasn’t there, but I’m just telling you from what we know, we believe there should’ve been an entry as soon as you can,” he said.
12:03 p.m. – 911 calls come in from the school
The first 911 call from inside the classroom came at 12:03 p.m., according to McCraw’s update Friday. At 12:10 p.m., someone called back saying multiple people were dead inside the classroom. Shots could be heard over the phone at 12:21 p.m.
At 12:43 and 12:47 p.m. students on the phone begged 911 to send police into the classroom.
12:50 p.m. – Classroom breached, Border Patrol officer kills gunman
Law enforcement used janitor keys to open the adjoining classroom where the gunman and children were.
Texas DPS Director McCraw said Wednesday a tactical team was put together made up of Border Patrol agents, a Zavala County deputy and Uvalde Police officers. McCraw said the officers breached, engaged the shooter and pinned him down to one location.
Regional Director Escalon said Thursday there was some gunfire during attempts to negotiate with the shooter, but reported they have no knowledge of the gunman speaking to officers.
More than an hour after the gunman went into Robb Elementary, an officer with U.S. Border Patrol shot and killed the shooter, according to Regional Director Escalon.
1:30 p.m. – First injuries reported
As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Uvalde Memorial Hospital posted it was “currently caring for several students in the ER.” A later post just before 3 p.m. confirmed UMH had received 13 children via ambulance or buses for treatment. Two children had been transferred to San Antonio, another was pending transfer and two people who had arrived at UMH died from their injuries.
4 p.m. – First reports of deaths
By 4 p.m. Tuesday, it had been confirmed at least 14 children and one teacher were killed during the shooting. Speaking at a press conference from Abilene Tuesday, Abbott said the shooter was dead and had been killed by responding officers. Previously, the Uvalde Police Department had said the shooter was in custody.
During Abbott’s press conference, he said the Uvalde CISD Police Department will serve as the primary lead on the investigation but will receive investigative and patrol assistance from state resources.
During an afternoon press conference held by Uvalde CISD, Arredondo said investigators believed the shooter had acted alone and there were no other suspects. He added the Texas Department of Public Safety is also involved in the investigation.
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. – Death toll updated
The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed just before 7 p.m. Tuesday the death toll had risen to 18 children and two teachers. During a Uvalde CISD press conference Tuesday evening, Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell confirmed the school year — which was set to end Thursday — was officially over.
“My heart is broken today,” he said. “We’re a small community, and we need your prayers to get us through this.”
The death toll rose to 19 children and two adults, as confirmed around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Abbott said Wednesday the shooter didn’t have a known criminal or mental health history, but the investigation into his background and possible motive is ongoing.
Abbott said through conversations with law enforcement personnel, they said there’s “a problem with mental health illness in this community.”
“There is an urgent need for everybody affected to access mental health,” Abbott said.
Lawmakers question police response
In an interview Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn, R- Texas, questioned the police response to the school shooting.
“The problem with this is there were multiple points of failure, and it looks like, maybe the lessons that we learned after Columbine where the police waited outside until the shooters came out — and what we learned and what we implemented was something called active shooter training so the police can go in and disrupt the shooting — and the carnage and stop the additional killing,” Cornyn said. “There’s a lot of different things to learn about this. It’s too early to draw any definite conclusions but we are going to work on it.”
During the Wednesday press conference on the shooting, held at Uvalde CISD’s high school campus, Gov. Abbott and the Texas DPS director praised the response from law enforcement, crediting the officers with preventing additional deaths.
“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,” Gov. Abbott said.