Still not digesting the racist massacre in Buffalo, the United States is forced to look again at the dark well of its history of violence. The name of Uvalde, a small and quiet community of 16,000 people in the center of the State of Texas, a few kilometers from the border with Mexico, is added this Tuesday to a long list of the horrors that violence with firearms has left behind. in this country. Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old from this same town, broke into Robb Elementary School minutes before 11:30 a.m. (local time) armed with a pistol and a semi-automatic assault rifle and, according to the authorities’ account, “began to shoot whoever was in his way, regardless of whether they were children, teachers or adults”, before being shot down by the police inside the school compound. The provisional balance of this new massacre is 19 children and two dead teachers. The shooter was a student in the last year of the institute in the same town, very close to the attacked elementary school, where around 500 children between the ages of seven and 10, most of them Hispanics, are enrolled.
Uvalde joins names like Columbine, Parkland and Sandy Hook, American cities that have witnessed how weapons break into what should be the safest place of all, schools. How could it have happened here? Why didn’t anyone see it coming? These are the questions that are now being asked by the residents of this town with a Hispanic majority and where everyone knows each other.
Adolfo Cruz, 69, was waiting for news about his granddaughter, Elija Cruz Torres, 10, on Tuesday afternoon outside the school. Since noon no one had heard from her youngest. Her mother, Leandra, had gone to look for her at the city hospital, where she treated the wounded, and at the civic center, where some students were transferred. “The only hope we have is that they took her away in the air ambulance, because they said on the radio that an adult and a 10-year-old girl were evacuated to San Antonio. I hope that she will be my granddaughter, ”said Adolfo, originally from Uvalde. “I feel sad not only for her, but for all of her children,” he added. But no luck. Leandra has confirmed to this newspaper this morning that the little girl is among the fatalities. As of Tuesday night, the authorities had not released the list of deceased.
The attacked school was celebrating the last day of classes on Tuesday. Parents and children had attended an end-of-year ceremony and to collect their diplomas. The center, located on a large piece of land in a neighborhood of single-story lower-middle class houses, only had three grades, from second to fourth of basic education. “This is a nightmare,” cried Mary Schumer, who went to that school decades ago, and this Tuesday she was visiting her mother’s house, in front of the school.
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A few blocks away, Carlos Mendoza, a truck driver, was looking at the latest photo of his 10-year-old niece, Emery Joe Garza, on his cell phone. The girl smiles and hugs her grandfather as she shows the camera the diploma she received in the morning. Minutes after that ceremony, Salvador Ramos and his anger burst into the center. Emery is one of the victims of this nonsense. Carlos, speaking with a neighbor, questions: “How is it possible that a huerco [chaval] 18 years old can buy weapons? “At least I should do it at 21 ″, Leo, his neighbor, replies.
Mendoza and Leo live on Diaz Street, where the tragedy that has marked this small Texan community originated this Tuesday. The murderer lived a few meters from them, in a house that he shared with his maternal grandparents, Rodolfo and Celia. “They didn’t do anything to anyone,” says Leo.
The tragedy’s origin
According to the first reconstruction of the events, “the suspect was involved in a domestic fight with his grandmother. He shot her,” Sergeant Christopher Olivarez, of the Texas State Department of Public Safety, explained to the press. According to the witnesses’ account, after shooting his grandmother in the head (who was urgently evacuated to the San Antonio hospital, the same one to which the wounded in the shooting have been transferred), Ramos got into a black van and He drove a few meters to school. Neighbors heard how the truck fell into a ditch in front of the center. The subject got out of the vehicle and jumped over the fence. The first shots began to be heard minutes before 11:30. Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Guns are investigating what type of caliber the shooter used and how he gained access to the weapons.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, was the first to report that Ramos “horribly and incomprehensibly shot and killed” the children and two teachers. “Texans mourn the victims of this senseless crime and the Uvalde community,” he said in a tweet. One of the teachers has been identified tonight as Eva Mireles, 44 years old and with 17 years of experience as an educator. The Abbott government has, however, passed rules to make gun ownership easier. In June of last year, he enacted a law that eliminated the need to have a permit to carry weapons or take a course to handle them. This initiative, promoted by the powerful lobby of weapons in the State, has been in force since last September.
The second worst massacre in the last decade
The mass shooting in Uvalde is the second-largest shooting at a US college in the past decade. The largest was the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, when a 20-year-old man, Adam Lanza, after shooting his mother, killed 26 people, including 20 children ages 6 and 7. years. He later committed suicide. In 2018, at a Parkland, Florida, high school, a 19-year-old former student who had been expelled killed 17 people, mostly teenagers.
Sergeant Olivarez explained that the first emergency call was received minutes before Ramos entered the school. According to the version of the authorities, several police units quickly arrived at the center, including the border patrol. “They were brave enough to go into the school and confront the suspect and neutralize him. As a result, there were several gunshot wounded officers,” said the spokesman, who did not specify the number.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has made an institutional declaration of mourning and solidarity with the families, from the White House, fresh from his tour of Asia. “It is time to act, it is time to tell those who obstruct, delay or block common sense laws [en referencia a la legislación sobre las armas]: we will not forget”, he has said energetically. “Most Americans support sensible gun control laws,” she said of the event.
The United States, where the right to own firearms is constitutionally enshrined, is the only country in the world in which massacres by firearms in schools and institutes are repeated on a recurring basis. In the most recent, on the last day of November 2021, a 15-year-old teenager killed four students in cold blood and injured six others and a teacher at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, a small town north of Detroit. .
The event coincides with the publication of a report that reveals that shootings have multiplied in the United States in 2021. An FBI count indicates that last year there were 61 such episodes, compared to 40 in 2020. The shootings left last year 103 dead and a hundred wounded. These figures do not include the perpetrators of the shooting.
Mass shootings, and especially those that take place in schools, have fueled the debate on the controls on the sale and use of firearms. “Enough is enough, we have to have the courage to take action,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, after noting that she was “heartbroken” by the tragedy.
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