UVALDE: The Texas school gunman shared his plan to attack a school on Facebook approximately 15 minutes before opening fire, the state governor said on Wednesday, adding the attack weapon was a AR-15 assault rifle.
Governor Greg Abbott also told a press conference that the gunman shot his grandmother in the face before heading to the elementary school, where he shot dead 19 children and two teachers.
"The first post was to the point of, he said ‘I’m going to shoot my grandmother,’" Abbott said.
"The second post was ‘I shot my grandmother.’ The third post, maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at the school was ‘I’m going to shoot an elementary school.’"
Facebook rapidly released a statement after Abbott’s comments, saying the posts "were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred." "We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation," said Andy Stone, spokesman for Facebook’s parent company Meta.
Abbott gave basic details of Tuesday’s attack. "The first thing that happened was that the gunman shot his grandmother in the face," he said.
"She then contacted police. The gunman fled and, as he was fleeing, had an (vehicle) accident just outside of the elementary school and he ran into the school. "Officers... engaged the gunman at that time. The gunman then entered a back door and went down two short hallways, and then into a classroom on the left-hand side."
Meanwhile, Americans must stand up to the gun lobby and pressure members of Congress to pass sensible gun laws, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday after the killing of at least 19 children and two teachers in a Texas school shooting.
"As a nation, we have to ask, 'When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby', when in God’s name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done" Mr Biden said, his voice rising to a crescendo. "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."
Authorities said an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at an elementary school in south Texas, about 130-km west of San Antonio before he apparently was killed by police officers.
Mass shootings in America are often followed by public protests and calls for action by Democratic politicians, but federal gun safety policies like background checks that are common in other countries have failed in the face of strong Republican opposition.
Biden demanded action on Tuesday night without laying out actions he intended to take, nor call for a specific vote in Congress or policy. "I hoped when I became president I would not have to do this, again," a visibly shaken Biden said, decrying the death of "beautiful, innocent" second, third and fourth graders in "another massacre." Biden, whose life has been marked by family tragedy, said their parents "will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them".
He asked Americans to fight the feeling of powerlessness from seeing yet another mass shooting.
The United States experienced 61 "active shooter" incidents last year, up sharply from the prior year and the highest tally in over 20 years, the FBI reported this week.
The shooting hands Biden, already facing the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, another crisis on top of 40-year high inflation rates and the war in Ukraine.
A mass shooting in a Buffalo, New York, grocery store 10 days ago increased pressure from backers of tougher gun laws for the Biden administration to make good its vow to crack down on gun violence.
When he ran for the White House, Biden promised to push gun safety measures and reduce the country's tens of thousands of annual gun deaths.
Biden and his fellow Democrats have failed to get enough votes in Congress for background checks for gun purchases or other proposed Bills. In 1994, Biden, then a senator from Delaware, ushered in a 10-year ban on assault weapons with a close 52-48 vote in the US Senate that was not renewed in 2004.
"When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled. The idea that an 18-year-old kid could walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons, is just wrong," Biden said.
The United States is the most heavily armed society in the world, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a research group.
Small, rural states where gun ownership is widespread have disproportionate influence in the US Senate, where a supermajority of 60 votes is needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.
Biden was briefed about the shooting aboard Air Force One as he returned from a trip to Asia, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Twitter.
He called Texas Governor Greg Abbott to offer any assistance needed. "His prayers are with the families impacted by this awful event," Ms Jean-Pierre said.