The mass shooting in Texas is the latest tragic news involving a school
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
If you're just waking up, the death toll is now 21 from an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. An 18-year-old opened fire at the rural elementary school there. Sergio Martinez-Beltran is the Texas capital reporter for NPR's the Texas Newsroom. And he's going to bring us up to date from Austin. Welcome to the program.
SERGIO MARTINEZ-BELTRAN, BYLINE: Good morning.
INSKEEP: What is known so far? Just give us the best facts you got.
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Yeah. Like you said, unfortunately, the number of the victims has increased. We have 19 children and two adults who are confirmed dead. We also know that the gunman died. Now, because it's an elementary school, Robb Elementary, we know that the students are in second, third and fourth grade. Some of the children, you know, had even received awards prior to the shooting for having good grades. So it's very sad. And we also know that of the two adults, at least one was a teacher at this school.
INSKEEP: Can you tell us about the setting? I've been reading now about Uvalde and see references to the Texas Hill Country. It seems like a small place. What's it like?
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Yeah, it is a small place, about 83 miles west of San Antonio. You know, it's about 16 people, so small town. Now, it's very diverse. It's 73% Hispanic. And it's the type of community where people know everyone. And we're seeing that on social media, Steve, you know? We're seeing that people have been posting these memorials about their loved ones. And it seems like everyone is connected with everyone in this community. The school district is also very diverse, as well as the elementary school.
INSKEEP: Yeah, if I just think about 16,000 people, probably a lot of families had somebody in that elementary school. If they did not actually lose someone, they are talking to someone who survived. I mentioned the gunman is 18 - was 18. What more is known about his movements on the way to the school?
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Yeah. So Governor Greg Abbott said that the gunman was also a resident of Uvalde, so he was part of the community. Now, it's been a little confusing and, I think, also, like, a little shocking to hear the details about what happened prior to the school shooting. So authorities say that before going into the school, the gunman shot his grandmother and then drove and crashed in a ditch near the school district. You know, he exited the car. And then he was engaged by law enforcement. But still, the suspect was able to enter the school. And then we know what happened, you know, he started shooting there.
INSKEEP: I just want to make sure that I'm clear on this. We said 21 dead. I understand from other reporting it's not clear if that includes the gunman, who was killed by police. Does - is it clear if it includes the grandmother or not?
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: The last thing we know - we knew about the grandmother was that she was unclear. What we do know is that 19 children, two adults - and that's in addition to the gunman, who also died.
INSKEEP: OK. OK. OK, so 21 victims that we know of at this point. Very briefly, how are officials responding?
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: You know, there's been a lot of pain, you know? It's been a real tragedy. And, of course, when you think about the families of those killed, it's hard. We've heard from the school superintendent at Uvalde, who talked about how he was heartbroken and said the community needs prayers, that's the only way they can get through this. But there's also been a lot of frustration. We do know that Governor Abbott signed a bill last year that allows Texas residents - most Texas residents to carry a gun without a license. So many folks have said something needs to be done.
INSKEEP: Sergio Martinez-Beltran of Texas Newsroom. Thank you so much.
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.