- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The suspect in Tuesday’s horrific Texas shooting stopped attending high school and “pulled back to himself” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to accounts relayed by the mayor.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Wednesday he did not know the suspect, but that he was told by people who did know 18-year-old Salvador Ramos that he withdrew during the 2020 pandemic, which saw schools nationwide switch temporarily to virtual learning.

“I have talked to a few people that have known him and went to school with him,” Mr. McLaughlin told Fox News. “I talked to some parents of students who went to school with him, but that’s about as far as it’s gone.”

He continued: “They just said that when COVID hit he kind of dropped out of school and just kind of pulled back to himself.”

At least 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in the worst mass shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six teachers died.

The suspect, who was shot and killed at the scene, reportedly attended Uvalde High School at some point, but “my understanding is he was not currently enrolled in school,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

SEE ALSO: Democrats criticize gun lobby following deadly Texas school shooting

Newsy reporter John Mone said that a neighbor told him that the suspect argued with his grandmother about not graduating.

“He [the neighbor] said that the suspect was angry he did not graduate,” said Mr. Mone in a Tuesday night report. “He got into an argument with the grandmother, and she was screaming, ‘He shot me, he shot me,’ and then got in the car.”

Mr. McLaughlin said that the grandmother was able to call and notify police that she had been shot.

“All I can tell you that I do know at this time is that he shot his grandmother, he got in the car, he wrecked his car here on Grove Street,” he said. “There were officers coming around the corner as he wrecked his car, and he fled his car and ran into the school. That’s all that I know at this time.”

SEE ALSO: All shooting victims were in one classroom in Texas elementary school: police

He entered the elementary school by climbing the fence, the mayor said.

“The elementary school is fenced and you’re supposed to go through the office,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “They do have police officers at the different campuses. This particular individual, from my understanding, was he just climbed over the fence right by a classroom and stormed the building.”

Police were already pursuing the suspect after receiving the call from the grandmother, who survived the attack, Reuters reported.

“Thank God for all these first responders, because if they hadn’t reacted as fast as they did yesterday, this could have been a lot more tragic than it already is,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

He described the town as a “strong community” that has benefited from the presence of 141 Border Patrol agents who live in the area, calling them “a blessing to our community.”

Border Patrol agents joined police in responding to Tuesday’s shooting, and at least one was injured in the gunfire exchange, said Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Marsha Espinosa in a Tuesday tweet.

All of the victims were reportedly found in the same fourth-grade classroom.

“It was just a horrendous, horrendous sight in that classroom,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We had officers who had families that teach at that school. We had an officer of the school district who lost his wife. Nobody should have to deal with that, and my heart’s out to all these officers.”

After receiving the news, the mayor said he “just cried.”

“I couldn’t believe there was [someone] out there who could do something like this,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “My prayers and thoughts are with these families.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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