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Texas School Slaughter Saddens Biden, Nation

A girl cries outside the Willie de Leon Civic Center where grief counseling will be offered in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. - A teenage gunman killed 18 young children in a shooting at an elementary school

Once again, school bells in the United States have been responded to by deadly gunfire, as an 18-year old shooter killed at least 19 children and two adults Tuesday in an attack at an elementary school in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas.

Uvalde, Texas authorities said the 18-year-old gunman first shot his grandmother, then crashed a car and entered the school, carrying out the shootings before being killed by law enforcement.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant Erick Estrada told CNN that officers saw the gunman, identified by Texas Governor Greg Abbott as Salvador Ramos. The shooter, wearing body armor, left his crashed car carrying a rifle, and that officers “engaged” the suspect.

Despite that, Ramos was still able to go into the school, where he went into a classroom and sprayed children with bullets.

Lydia Martinez Delgado wrote on Facebook that her niece, Eva Mireles, was a teacher at the school and among those killed.

“I’m furious that these shootings continue,” Martinez Delgado said in a statement. “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially loved ones.”

The school has an enrollment of about 600 students in the second, third and fourth grades and sits in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes. The town has a population of about 16,000 people and is the seat of government for Uvalde County. It is about 135 kilometers (84 miles) west of San Antonio and about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the border with Mexico.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to the nation late Tuesday, expressing condolences to the victims’ families, questioning why mass shootings are so common in the country and urging lawmakers to support what he called “commonsense gun laws.”

“What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” Biden said. “Why?

The president continued with "These kinds of mass shootings never happen [in other nations] with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?”

“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” Abbott said in a statement.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas echoed similar sentiments. “Today is a dark day. We’re all completely sickened and heartbroken,” his statement read.

Both Abbott and Cruz were among a group of Republican figures scheduled to appear Friday in Houston at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, the gun rights group that has opposed gun control measures.

Texas has been the scene of several mass shootings over the past five years. One year before the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.