‘The sweetest little boy’: first children named in Texas school shooting

Biden calls for gun controls after 19 children and two teachers die in Uvalde city

A number of children survived with injuries after a gunman barricaded himself in a Texas fourth grade classroom where he killed 19 children and two adults, a public safety official said on Wednesday.

“We do know that there were multiple children that did survive, that were injured. I do not have the exact number at this time,” Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, in an interview with Fox News, said of Tuesday’s shooting at a South Texas elementary school.

As desperate families continued to wait for news of their children, the names of the first victims of the mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, near the Texas border with Mexico, have begun to emerge.

State officials and police said the 18-year-old suspect, identified as Salvador Ramos, opened fire at 11.30am local time on Tuesday, shooting dead 19 pupils and two adults, both teachers. Mr Ramos was killed, apparently shot by police, after fleeing the scene.

The family of Uziyah Garcia said the eight-year-old boy was among those who died. “The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Garcia’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, told the Associated Press.

Renfro said he had last seen his grandson when he came to visit during spring break. “We started throwing the football together and I was teaching him pass patterns,” he said. “Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good.”

Xavier Javier Lopez (10) was also killed in the shooting, his cousin, Lisa Garzab (54) from Arlington in Texas, said. “He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” Ms Garzab said.

“He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.” Ms Garza told local ABC News affiliate that her cousin’s mother had been with him during an awards ceremony at the school hours before the shooting.

The father of Amerie Jo Garza, who celebrated her 10th birthday just over a fortnight ago, identified his daughter as another of the children killed. “Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby,” Angel Garza told ABC News.

“She’s been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above. Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me.”

Mr Garza was among several parents who criticised US gun laws. “We should have more restrictions, especially if these kids [the gunmen] are not in their right state of mind and all they want to do is just hurt people, especially innocent children going to school,” he said.

The Washington Post reported that Jose Flores, also aged 10, was also one of the victims. His uncle, Christopher Salazar, told the newspaper: “He was a very happy little boy. He loved both his parents … and loved to laugh and have fun.”

A fourth-grade teacher, Eva Mireles (44), was confirmed as one of the two adults killed. “She was adventurous. I would definitely say those wonderful things about her. She is definitely going to be very missed,” said a relative, Amber Ybarra.

Ms Mireles’ aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, told the New York Times her niece had been a teacher for 17 years and was shot and killed while trying to protect her pupils. Ms Delgado said she was married with one child and took pride in her teaching.

“She was the fun of the party,” she said, adding in a statement reported by ABC: “I’m furious that these shootings continue. These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all.”

Jose Flores, aged 10, has also been named as a victim by his uncle.

Several US media outlets named Irma Garcia as the second adult victim. According to her school profile, Ms Garcia, who was Ms Mireles’ co-teacher, had taught at the school for 23 years and was married with four children. NBC reported that her son had been told by a friend in law enforcement that she too had been shielding her pupils.

Other families posted pictures of smiling children on social media, begging for information. Classes at the school had been winding down for the year and the theme of the day had been “footloose and fancy”, with pupils asked to wear a fun outfit.

The parents of the schoolchildren have had to wait for hours in a parking lot to receive the news that their children are dead after being swabbed for DNA, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden called on politicians in Washington to agree on the introduction of new gun control measures in the wake of the latest mass shooting in which 19 schoolchildren were killed.

“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby”, Mr Biden said in an emotional address from the White House on Tuesday.

Authorities in Texas said that 19 children and two adults — at least one teacher — were killed in the attack at a primary school in Uvalde, about 80 miles from San Antonio, just before lunchtime on Tuesday.

Speaking at the White House Mr Biden again urged the introduction of “common-sense gun laws”.

He said similar mass shootings rarely happened elsewhere in the world.

“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.”

“For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

Authorities in Texas identified the suspected gunman as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old resident of Uvalde.

Police in Texas maintained that the suspect had earlier shot his grandmother who had been airlifted to hospital.

He then drove off and was involved in what they described as “an epic crash” close to the school.

Police said the suspect then sought to enter the school carrying a rifle and a backpack and wearing body armour. He was engaged by some law enforcement personnel but managed to get inside the school building where the shooting took place. At least one police officer is believed to have been shot but not seriously injured.

US media reported on Tuesday night that a friend maintained the suspected gunman had been bullied in high school and that his behaviour had deteriorated in recent times. Reports said he had bought two assault weapons immediately after his 18th birthday earlier in May.

Texas governor Greg Abbot said the gunman had “shot and killed horrifically, incomprehensibly,” students and a teacher at the school.

He said the attacker was dead and it was believed that officers responding to the attack had killed him.

US vice-president Kamala Harris said: “Our hearts keep getting broken.”

“Enough is enough. As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again

Condolences have been expressed by world leaders including Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz, Israel’s president Isaac Herzog and French president, Emmanuel Macron who described the shooting as “cowardly” and he said the French people shared the shock and grief of the American people. Pope Francis said he was “heartbroken by the massacre” and said “It is time to say ‘enough’ to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons. Let us all make a commitment so that tragedies like this cannot happen again.

The mass shootings in Texas came just over a week after ten people were killed at a supermarket in Buffalo in New York state by a masked gunman in an attack that police said was racially motivated.

The shooting in Texas on Tuesday was one of the deadliest at a US school since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 young children aged between five and ten in an attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.

In 2018, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and staff. — additional reporting from Guardian