The 18-year-old gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, communicated his plan to carry out such a shooting to a teen in Germany shortly before he opened fire.
Those who knew Salvador Ramos say the 18-year-old high school dropout had grown increasingly confrontational and violent in the months before he carried out Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
Moments before he carried out the deadliest mass shooting at a school in the U.S. since 2012’s Sandy Hook massacre, Ramos sent a series of messages to a 15-year-old girl in Germany on the social live-streaming app Yubo. “Ima go shoot up a elementary school right now,” he wrote.
Before the attack, Ramos also told the girl he bought bullets that would expand once they entered a body. She said she asked him what he planned to do with them, and he replied she should “just wait for it.”
Ramos legally bought a top-of-the-line version of the AR-15 made by arms manufacturer Daniel Defense. There are numerous videos on YouTube promoting the weapon. He purchased the firearm online for $2,024.28, as well as a handgun, more than 300 rounds of ammunition and body armor days before the shooting. He entered the school carrying a backpack and one of those rifles, the governor said.
The girl in Germany, who has not been identified, said she had not been in contact with Ramos for weeks, but starting in the beginning of May had video-chatted on a daily basis via FaceTime and played online games via Plato, a gaming app, CNN reported. The girl said he also spoke of visiting her in Germany.
Before speaking about carrying out a school shooting, Ramos texted the girl complaining about his grandmother being “on the phone with AT&T about my phone. It’s annoying.” Six minutes later, he wrote, “I just shot my grandma in her head.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday told reporters Ramos posted to Facebook about 30 minutes before reaching the school.
“The first post was to the point of he said, ‘I’m going to shoot my grandmother.’ The second post was ‘I shot my grandmother,’ the third post maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at school was ‘I’m going to shoot an elementary school,’” Abbott said, adding there was no known mental health history of the gunman.
Abbott described the writings as social media posts, but a Facebook spokesperson said they were included in a direct message to another party. The company is assisting the investigation, the spokesperson said.
Ramos worked at the drive-thru window of a Wendy’s, where he told co-workers he was saving money to buy guns. A former co-worker called him “rude, creepy and scruffy.”
The girl from Germany told CNN that Ramos told her he spent most of his time home alone.
“Every time I talked to him … he never had plans with his friends,” she said. “He looked happy and comfortable talking to me.”
But she said found some of the messages he sent her alarming, including one in which he said he “threw dead cats at people’s houses.”
“Maybe I could have changed the outcome. I just could never guess that he’d actually do this,” girl told The New York Times.
Former FBI agent and mass shooting expert Katherine Schweit said Ramos may have been stopped if warning signs had been reported. “One of the more telling things for me is some of the people who are coming forward and saying, 'I saw this with him, I saw this change in his behavior, I saw him spend more time with guns.' We can gather all this information now but it would have been nice if we had gathered it before he started shooting,” she told Inside Edition.
After shooting his grandmother at her home, Ramos then drove to the school, crashed his car, and ran inside, authorities said.
At a hastily called news conference Thursday, a state police director acknowledged the lone gunman was inside the classroom for an hour before officers stormed the school and killed him.
Gunman Salvador Ramos entered the school through an "apparently" unlocked door at 11:45 a.m. and quickly began shooting, said Victor Escalon, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Local Uvalde Police Department officers entered the building five minutes later, then pulled back after three cops were shot, Escalon said.
An hour passed before a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team rushed the classroom and shot Ramos to death, according to Escalon's timeline. He said "negotiations" for back-up were underway during that time but declined to specifically address why 60 minutes passed with students and teachers being shot with round after round. Investigators are still trying to piece together what happened, Escalon said.
He also said that previous law enforcement reports that a school resource officer had confronted the gunman were incorrect.
Also, according to Escalon's timeline, Ramos walked around the campus for 12 minutes, firing rounds from a semi-automatic rifle, before he entered the school. He said he could not account for that time frame and would provide more details at a later time.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that a law enforcement official said Border Patrol agents, who eventually killed the gunman, had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation, The AP said.