Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District first warned parents on Facebook around noon that an active shooter had prompted a lockdown of campuses.
Officials at Uvalde Memorial Hospital said they had received 13 children via ambulances or buses for treatment. The nature of their injuries was not immediately made public.
Hospital staff said two patients had already been transferred to San Antonio, while another was set to be transferred.
The two patients already transferred were a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, according to University Health officials in San Antonio. Both are in critical condition.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital also said two individuals who arrived at its facility were already dead. “No details are available,” it wrote on Facebook, without specifying the victims’ ages.
“This was a tragic and senseless event today and my heart is broken today,” Uvalde schools Superintendent Hal Harrell said during a press conference. “We’re a small community and we need your prayers to get through this.”
Local authorities declined to give more specifics at a press conference Tuesday evening, saying the investigation into the shooting was still ongoing.
President Joe Biden is also expected to address the nation from the White House later on Tuesday night. He signed a proclamation ordering flags on federal buildings in the US and around the world be flown at half-staff “as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence.”
The American Public Health Association says gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of Tuesday, at least 17,074 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
In 2012, a gunman killed 20 children and six school officials at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. And just last week, a shooter targeting Black people killed 10 shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
“Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons we have another Sandy Hook on our hands,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy in an emotional speech on the Senate floor. “What are we doing?”
Murphy, a Democrat who has long pushed for stronger gun control measures, posed that question repeatedly, asking his colleagues what the point of serving in Congress was “if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” Over the past 20 years, Republicans in the House and Senate have blocked attempts to combat gun violence in any meaningful way.
“This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country and nowhere else,” he said. “Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.”
Last year, Abbott signed several bills into law loosening restrictions on firearms, saying the measures, including one that allows Texans to carry handguns without a license or training, would “instill freedom in the Lone Star State.”
Abbott is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston on Friday alongside former president Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, according to the gun rights lobbying organization’s website.
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