(Update 1: adds details, rewrites throughout, updates headline, lede)
Washington, May 24 (EFE).- Nineteen children were among at least 21 people killed Tuesday when a man opened fire at a primary school in Texas, United States, officials said.
The suspected gunman, identified by Governor Greg Abbott as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was also killed.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Erick Estrada told CNN that 19 children and two adults were killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde, about 83 miles (133 kilometers) from San Antonio and about 70 miles from the Mexico border.
“It is believed that he abandoned his vehicle, then entered into the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun, and he may have also had a rifle,” Abbott said at a press conference.
“The shooter, he himself is deceased and it’s believed that responding officers killed him,” the governor added.
“It is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school,” Abbott said of the suspect, a US citizen who had attended Uvalde High School.
The grandmother is in critical condition after being airlifted to hospital, Estrada told CNN.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital said in a statement on Facebook it had “received 13 children via ambulance or buses for treatment,” while “two individuals that arrived at UMH were deceased.”
It added that three children were being transferred to San Antonio.
A hospital in San Antonio, University Health, tweeted that it was treating four patients injured in the shooting: a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, both in critical condition, a 10-year-old in good condition, and a 9-year-old girl in fair condition.
“The investigation is leading to tell us the suspect did act alone during this heinous crime,” Pete Arredondo, chief of police at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said.
Border patrol agents responded to the shooting and “upon entering the building, Agents & other law enforcement officers faced gun fire from the subject, who was barricaded inside,” Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Marsha Espinosa wrote on Twitter.
“These Border Patrol Agents and other officers put themselves between the shooter and children on the scene to draw the shooter’s attention away from potential victims and save lives. At least one Border Patrol Agent was wounded by the shooter during the exchange of gunfire,” she added.
In an address to the nation immediately after arriving from a tour of Asia and learning of the shooting, US President Joe Biden demanded lawmakers “turn this pain into action.”
“I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage,” Biden said at the White House, asking: “Why do we keep letting this happen?”
“Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with and stand up to the [gun] lobbies?”
Biden ordered that the country’s flags fly at half-staff at the White House and at all federal buildings, military installations and warships until sunset on May 28.
This is the deadliest shooting in the US so far this year and comes 10 days after 10 people were shot dead in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in an attack with racist motivations.
Tuesday’s was also the deadliest school shooting in modern Texas history and the second deadliest school shooting in the last decade, after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed.