An armed man behind a deadly mass shooting at Fr. Texas Elementary School barricaded the classroom and opened fire, and teachers smashed windows across the school to try to save other children, a law enforcement spokesman said Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Homeland Security spoke in detail about the horrific ordeal on Tuesday during an interview with CBS Mornings presenter Tony Dakupil.
He said the 18-year-old shooter broke into Robb Elementary School in the small town of Uwalde shortly after the area crashed into his car, and immediately started firing with state troops who were at the scene. A gunman shot several police officers and then locked himself in a classroom, Olivares said.
“At that moment, [he] just started shooting at children and teachers who were in the classroom, not counting human life, “Olivares said.” Just a complete tragedy. An evil man who goes to school and kills children for no reason. ”
Authorities say 19 children and two adults have been killed in the attack, the deadliest shooting at a school since December 2012, when a gunman opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
A Texas gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement, authorities said.
Before the attack at Robb Elementary School, which was attended by second- to fourth-graders, an armed man was involved in domestic riots with his grandmother, Olivares said. According to the lieutenant, the killer shot the woman, ran away from home in a car and crashed near the school.
On Wednesday morning, the grandmother was hospitalized.
Olivares said state police learned the shooter was making his way to the school and were the first to respond.
“They heard gunfire,” Olivarez said. “They saw an arrow. At that moment the shooter met them with guns. Several police officers were shot dead. “
When an armed man opened fire in the classroom, teachers in other classrooms began “beating windows, trying to evacuate children to prevent further deaths,” the lieutenant said.
“The original officers who were at the scene were at a disadvantage,” Olivarez said. “They were unable to enter, especially with the amount of labor that was at the scene. So at that point their main task was to evacuate as many children as possible.”
Assisting with the evacuation, officers “continued to hear gunshots,” Olivares said.
A specialized tactical unit consisting of local, state and federal law enforcement officers eventually entered the classroom, Olivares said. One of those officers was shot, but he has since left the hospital, Olivares said.
Preliminary investigation shows the shooter was armed with a handgun, AR-15 assault weapons and large-capacity stores, CBS News sources told law enforcement. Federal firearms investigators are trying to determine how he got the weapon, Olivares said.
The gunman lived with his grandparents in the Uwalde district and attended a local high school, the lieutenant said. He was unemployed and had no known criminal history or gang affiliation, Olivares said. The motives of the arrow are found out.
“This is what we are still trying to determine – what were the motives, what were the indicators, whether there were red flags before this mass shooting,” Olivares said.
The shooting took place in just 10 days another massacrecalled “racial motivation” by the authorities, killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.