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What we know about the victims of the Texas school shooting in Uvalde so far

Courtesy of Lydia Martinez Delgado

(UVALDE, Texas) -- A fourth-grade teacher, several sets of cousins and a 10-year-old boy whose family called him "the life of the party" were among those killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, ABC News has learned.

At least 19 children and two teachers were killed after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The alleged gunman -- identified by officials as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School -- is dead, authorities said.

"When parents drop their kids off at school, they have every expectation to know that they're going to be able to pick their child up when that school day ends. And there are families who are in mourning right now," Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters.

Here's what we know about the victims so far.

Layla Salazar

Layla Salazar was among the victims in the shooting, her father, Vincent Salazar, told The Associated Press.

He would play "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses as he drove her to school each morning and Layla would sing along.

Julien Salazar, Layla's brother, described her to the AP as "positive" and "energetic."

"She was so happy," he said. "She was so free of life. She was sweet."

Tess Mata, 10

The family of Tess Mata confirmed to ABC News that the 10-year-old was killed in the shooting.

With every school shooting that plagued the country, the family never thought it could happen in their small town.

"Every time we would see another mass shooting on the news we would say, 'that won’t happen here,'" Tess' mother, Veronica Mata, told ABC News. "That could never happen here. Not in Uvalde."

Veronica Mata said now her daughter is gone and she "will never get to hold her again."

Alithia Ramirez, 10

ABC News learned that Alithia Ramirez was one of the students killed.

“She was a very talented little girl,” Rosa Maria Ramirez, the grandmother of Alithia, told ABC News. “She loved to draw.”

The Uvalde school district website features an illustration drawn by Ramirez, which was among the winners of a bullying prevention poster contest. The drawing is entitled, "Kindness Takes Courage," according to an image of the drawing on the district website.

Uziyah Garcia

Uziyah Garcia died in the shooting, his family confirmed to ABC News.

His grandfather, Manny Renfro, described Uziyah to The Associated Press as "the sweetest little boy that I've ever known."

"I'm not just saying that because he was my grandkid," said Renfro, who last saw his grandson when he visited San Angelo during spring break.

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Makenna Lee Elrod was one of the students killed Tuesday, her aunt, Allison McCullough, confirmed to ABC News.

Makenna loved to play softball, do gymnastics, loved to dance and sing, play with fidget toys and spend time with her family, McCullough said. She loved animals and "made friends everywhere she went," her aunt said.

"Her smile would light up a room," she said. Makenna loved to write notes to her family and leave them in hidden places to be found later, her aunt said. Makenna was a natural leader and loved school. She loved going to the ranch with her dad to feed animals and ride on the ranger.

McCullough described her niece as "a light to all who knew her."

"She loved her family and friends so much," she said.

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11, and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos -- cousins who attended Robb Elementary School -- were both killed in the shooting, a family member confirmed to ABC News.

"They were nothing but loving baby angels, always had a smile on their face just full of life," their cousin said in a statement to ABC News. "I can't believe this happened to our angels."

The cousin said the family's grandpa passed away two weeks ago.

"So much loss in so little time," the cousin said.

Rojelio Torres, 10

Rojelio Torres' mother, Evadulia Orta, confirmed to ABC News her son died in the shooting. She described the 10-year-old fourth-grader as a "very smart and loving child."

Orta, a mother of four, said she is trying to stay strong for the rest of her children, but added, "I lost a piece of my heart."

Standing beside her twin sister, Orta told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the shooting has not only devastated her entire family but her entire community as well.

"We are praying for everyone, all the children and all the families," she said.

Annabell Rodriguez, 10, and Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10

Cousins Annabell Rodriguez and Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares were killed in the mass shooting, their aunt, Polly Flores, confirmed to ABC News.

The two cousins were in the same fourth-grade class at Robb Elementary School, Flores said.

Jacklyn's father, Jacinto Cazares, told ABC News his daughter "had the biggest heart."

"My little girl was full of life and touched so many people," he said. "Jackie was the one that would go out of her way to help anyone. It gives me some comfort, that she would be the little cracker that would have done something to help her classmates in that very scary scenario."

Eliahana Cruz Torres

Eliahana Cruz Torres died in the Tuesday shooting, her grandfather Adolfo Cruz confirmed to ABC News. Her death was confirmed to the family late Tuesday night.

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Amerie Jo Garza's father, Angel Garza, told ABC News that his daughter just turned 10 on May 10. Garza met with U.S. Marshals Tuesday night, who informed him that his daughter had been killed in the shooting at her elementary school.

"Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby," Garza wrote in a statement to ABC News. "She's been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above. Please don't take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me."

Xavier James Lopez, 10

Fourth grader Xavier James Lopez died in the school shooting, his family confirmed to ABC News.

According to his cousin, Xavier's mom was at his awards ceremony one to two hours prior to the shooting, not knowing it would be the last time she would see him.

His grandmother, Amelia Sandoval, told ABC News Tuesday night that Xavier was the "life of the party" and loved to dance and play baseball. He had just made the honor roll.

"You send your kids to school thinking they are coming home," Sandoval said, her voice choking up. "And then they're not."

"We loved him very much and he will be greatly missed," she said.

Eva Mireles

Eva Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher at the elementary school, was killed in the shooting, her aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, confirmed to ABC News. She had been a teacher in the school district for approximately 17 years, Delgado said.

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

"All we can do is pray hard for our country, state, schools and especially the families of all," she said.

Amber Ybarra, the cousin of Mireles' husband, called the teacher a "hero" and an "amazing mom."

"She was just very adventurous and courageous and vivacious and could light up a room," Ybarra told ABC News. "She's going to be missed."

Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia was a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary who died in the shooting, her family confirmed to ABC News.

According to the district's website, Garcia had been teaching for 23 years at the school. She also was a co-teacher with Eva Mireles in the same classroom for five years.

Compounding the family's grief, Garcia's husband, Joe, died on Thursday after suffering a massive heart attack, the family said.

Irma and Joe Garcia were about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, their family said. The two had known each other since eighth grade and have four children together.

"I love to BBQ with my husband, listen to music, and take country cruises to Concan," Irma Garcia appeared to have written on the school district's website.

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

A family member confirmed that 10-year-old Navaeh Bravo was killed in the shooting.

Ellie Garcia

Ellie’s mother confirmed to ABC News that she is one of the victims killed in the shooting.

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, a honor student at Robb Elementary school was killed in the attack on the same day she received a good citizen award from her school, according to her family.

Just hours before she was killed, a smiling Alexandria posed with her parents after receiving a certificate for being a straight A student, her family said.

"My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll," the girl's mother, Kimberly Mata-Rubio wrote on Facebook the day her daughter died. "She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye."

Maite Rodriguez, 10

In an interview with The Associated Press, Maite's mother said, "She was charismatic. She was goal-driven. She was ambitious. She was determined. She was focused. She was competitive, smart, bright, beautiful, happy."

"Why I want the world to know?" Maite's mother added. "Because I don't want her just to be another kid. I don't want her just to be another face. I don't want any of those kids to be just another face. Each one of them has a story to tell. And this just horrendous act just cut everything short for them."

Maranda Mathis, 11

Maranda Mathis is one of the victims, her mother confirmed to ABC News. Maranda’s brother Bruce, a second grader, was also at the school but was not injured.

Jose Flores, 10

Christopher Salazar, an uncle of Jose Flores, wrote on Facebook: "I love you and miss you."

ABC News' Anthony McMahon, Alyssa Pone and Mireya Villarreal contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What went wrong as police in Uvalde waited to breach classroom

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- Steven McCraw, director of Texas DPS, admitted it was the "wrong decision" for officers not to go into the classroom where the suspect was for 35 minutes after a tactical unit arrived.
The head of law enforcement in Texas revealed a cascading series of police missteps in the response to one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation's history.

A visibly shaken Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted that mistakes were made on the ground during an active shooter incident at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed by a heavily armed gunman.

The missteps began before the shooting, when a Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police officer responding to a 911 call of a man with a gun on the school campus drove past the suspect, who was "hunkered down" behind a car in the school parking lot, McCraw said.

The gunman fired at the school multiple times before entering through a door left propped open by a teacher at 11:33 a.m., walked into a classroom and began firing more than 100 rounds, according to McCraw.

Minutes later, several Uvalde Police Department officers entered the building and were shot at from behind the closed classroom door. By 12:03 p.m., there were as many as 19 officers in the hallway, McCraw said.

As the officers were outside the door, the incident commander -- the chief of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police -- wrongly believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooting to a situation where the suspect had stopped firing, barricaded himself in a classroom and no longer posed a risk to children, McCraw said.

"He thought there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point," McCraw said. "That was the decision, that was the thought process."

The Customs and Border Protection's tactical team arrived on scene at 12:15 p.m. but did not breach the classroom until 35 minutes later, at 12:50 p.m., according to McCraw.

"Of course it wasn’t the right decision," McCraw said. "It was the wrong decision."

McCraw said there may have been a belief by the incident commander that no one was alive inside the classrooms. But he detailed 911 calls from students and teachers that made clear they were still in grave danger. It appears that information may not have been relayed to officers on the ground.

Multiple calls came in from inside the classroom, including from a teacher at 12:03 p.m., 12:10 p.m., 12:13 p.m. and 12:16 p.m. -- during which she said there were eight to nine students who were alive, according to McCraw.

Several other calls were made at 12:19 p.m., 12:21 p.m., 12:36 p.m. and 12:43 p.m. by students, he said.

The callers were blunt. In whispered tones one said, "He shot the door," and then, "Please send the police now," according to McCraw.

At 12:50 p.m., officers breached the locked doors using keys that they were able to get from the janitor and shot and killed the gunman, McCraw said.

McCraw admitted Friday that the decision to wait was "wrong."

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right was the wrong decision. Period," he said. "But again, I wasn't there, but I'm just telling you from what we know, we believe there should have been an entry at that -- as soon as you can."

Active shooter protocols dictate that officers find and target the shooter immediately, he said.

"You don't have to wait on tactical gear," he said. "If the shooting continues, and you have any reason to believe that there's individuals alive in there, you've got an obligation to move back to an active shooter posture and that means everybody, everybody at the door."

As part of its ongoing investigation of Tuesday's massacre, the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a review of law enforcement actions, ABC News has learned.

That could include anything from why the Uvalde ISD officer initially drove past the gunman to whether 911 caller information was relayed properly to officers at the scene to why the incident commander wrongly believed different protocols should apply, resulting in the 35-minute delay of the tactical team breach.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

East Coast on alert for tornadoes as Memorial Day weekend begins

Chad Warpinski / EyeEm/ Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The East Coast is bracing for flooding and tornadoes as Memorial Day weekend begins.

A tornado watch was issued Friday from North Carolina to Virginia to Maryland. The tornado watch includes the cities of Raleigh, Richmond, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Significant storm damage has been reported in parts of Bedford County, Virginia, after severe thunderstorms rolled through. It hasn't yet been determined if the damage was from a tornado or powerful wind gusts.

Friday afternoon and evening, strong storms will stretch from New York City to the Carolinas, bringing a threat of damaging winds, blinding downpours, flash flooding and more tornadoes.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for parts of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.

Flood watches are in effect from Virginia to New Jersey, including D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The Heartland could also see severe weather this holiday weekend.

Damaging winds, huge hail and tornadoes are possible from Oklahoma to Nebraska to Minnesota to Wisconsin.

This severe weather could disrupt Memorial Day travel.

About 39.2 million people are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend -- up 8.3% from last year, according to AAA.

More than 12.4 million people are expected to fly between May 26 and May 30, according to online travel-booking platform Hopper.

ABC News' Amanda Maile contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Texas school shooting live updates: Officers waited outside classroom for 35 minutes

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- A small town in rural Texas is reeling after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school on Tuesday, killing 19 children.

Two teachers were also among those killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, according to authorities.

Prior to opening fire at the school, the suspect also allegedly shot his grandmother, officials said.

The alleged gunman -- identified by authorities as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School -- is dead.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 27, 5:23 pm
Texas governor: 'I was misled' on police response to shooting

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he was "misled" about the response to the Uvalde school shooting.

"I am livid about what happened," Abbott said during a press briefing Friday, hours after the Texas Department of Public Safety detailed missteps that led to a 35-minute wait to breach the classroom where the shooter was.

"As everybody has learned, the information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I'm absolutely livid about that," Abbott said Friday. "There are people who deserve answers the most, and those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate, and it is inexcusable that they may suffer from any inaccurate information whatsoever."

The governor said there will be investigations into the release of information on the shooting and the strategy employed in the response.

On Wednesday, Abbott said an officer had confronted the shooter at the entrance to the school building, which was not the case.

"But the reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse," he also said at the time. "The reason it was not worse, is because law enforcement officials did what they do."

May 27, 4:37 pm
Texas official says gunman had 1,657 rounds of ammunition

The gunman had purchased a total of 1,657 rounds of ammunition, 315 of which were inside the school, Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, said Friday.

McCraw said 142 of those rounds were spent cartridges and 173 were live rounds.

Officials found 922 rounds outside of the school, but on school property. Of those rounds, 22 were spent cartridges and 900 were live rounds. Another 422 live rounds were found at the crash site, McCraw said.

The suspect had a total of 60 30-round magazines, 58 of which were at the school. He had fired nearly 200 rounds, most of them inside the school, said McCraw.

May 27, 3:42 pm
5 of 17 injured in shooting remain hospitalized

Five of the 17 people injured in the elementary school shooting remain in the hospital on Friday, according to officials.

Two children and one adult are being treated at University Hospital in San Antonio, two of whom are in serious condition, and two adults are at Brooke Army Medical Center, both in fair condition.

A 10-year-old girl was discharged from University Health in San Antonio.

Eight children and three adults were treated and discharged from Udalve Medical Center earlier this week.

-ABC News' Jennifer Watts

May 27, 3:13 pm
Texas DPS conducting review of law enforcement actions during shooting

As part of its ongoing investigation into Tuesday's shooting, the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a review of law enforcement actions.

This comes after the visibly shaken Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, revealed a cascading series of police failures before and during one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation’s history.

The incident commander, the chief of Uvalde ISD Police, wrongly believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooter situation to a barricaded subject situation, where the suspect had stopped firing and barricaded himself in a classroom, no longer posing a threat to children, McCraw said.

“He thought there was time,” McCraw said.

McCraw said there may have been a belief by the incident commander that no one was alive anymore inside the classrooms. But, he detailed multiple 911 calls made from inside the classrooms, on which callers explicitly said several children were alive and trapped inside with the shooter. Callers at several points asked for police to be sent in.

-ABC News' Aaron Katersky

May 27, 1:53 pm
Several 911 calls were made from inside classroom as police waited outside

Those inside a classroom with the shooter made several calls to 911, but the tactical unit that arrived at 12:15 p.m. waited 35 minutes before breaching the classroom, Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference Friday.

A 911 call was made at 12:03 p.m. from room 112 and lasted 23 seconds. McCraw did not identify the caller.

She called back at 12:10 p.m. and advised that there were multiple dead in the classroom, McCraw said.

The person then called again at 12:13 p.m. and again at 12:16 p.m., when she said there were eight to nine students who were still alive, McCraw said.

A call was made by someone else from room 111 at 12:19 p.m., the caller hung up when another student told her to hang up, McCraw said.

At 12:21 p.m., three shots were heard over a 911 call. At 12:36 p.m., another 911 call was made by the initial caller and it lasted for 21 seconds. The student caller was told to stay on the line and be very quiet. She told 911 that the gunman shot the door, McCraw said.

At approximately 12:43 p.m. and 12:47 p.m., she asked 911 to please send the police now, McCraw said.

The caller said she could hear police next door at 12:46 p.m. At 12:50 p.m., the Border Patrol tactical unit finally breached the door and shot the suspect.

May 27, 1:18 pm
Suspect reportedly involved in online chats about guns, school shootings in recent weeks

Authorities shed more light on some of the suspect's digital footprint in the weeks and months before Tuesday's mass shooting.

In September 2021, suspected gunman Salvador Ramos asked his sister to buy him a gun and she "flatly refused," Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters during a briefing Friday. He did not note where this exchange took place.

On Feb. 28, in an Instagram group chat with four people, they discussed "Ramos being a school shooter," McCraw said.

The next day, on March 1, in an Instagram chat with four people, Ramos discussed buying a gun, according to McCraw.

Two days later, on March 3, in another four-person chat, someone said, "Word on the street is you are buying a gun," according to McCraw. Ramos reportedly replied, "Just bought something."

On March 14, Ramos posted on Instagram, "Ten more days," according to McCraw. Someone replied, "Are you going to shoot up a school or something?" to which Ramos replied, "No. Stop asking dumb questions. You'll see," according to McCraw.

Investigators are also looking into people the suspect may have communicated with in video game chat rooms who "may have known something," McCraw said.

May 27, 12:36 pm
Officers did not breach classroom for 35 minutes while shooter was inside

Steven McCraw, director of Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted it was the "wrong decision" for officers not to go into the classroom where the suspect was for 35 minutes. Children were inside the classroom with him, making 911 calls, McCraw said in a press conference Friday.

The incident commander believed he was dealing with was a barricaded subject inside the school and the children were not at risk, he said.

A tactical team from CBP was on scene at 12:15 p.m., but did not breach the classroom until 12:50 p.m.

“Of course it wasn’t the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision.”

May 27, 11:23 am
US Marshals say they never arrested or handcuffed anyone outside school

The U.S. Marshals said they never placed anyone in handcuffs, but they say they “maintained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community that was gathering around the school," in a statement posted on Twitter.

U.S. Marshals arrived on scene from Del Rio, Texas, at 12:10 p.m., and the first deputy U.S. Marshal went into the school to assist BORTAC, the elite tactical CBP team that ultimately shot the alleged shooter, the statement said.

They came from 70 miles away and got the first call around 11:30 a.m., according to the statement.

“These Deputy US Marshals also rendered emergency trauma first aid for multiple victims,” the statement said.

"Additional Deputy U.S. Marshals were asked to expand and secure the official law enforcement perimeter around the school,” the statement said. “Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness at this horrific crime. We send our condolences to all the victims and families affected by this tragedy."

Angeli Rose Gomez, a mother waiting outside for her children, told the Wall Street Journal she was one of numerous parents urging police and law enforcement officers to go into the school sooner, first politely and then more urgently. She said U.S. Marshals put her in handcuffs, and told her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.

Angel Garza, the stepfather of one of the children killed in the shooting, ran to try to reach and help his child, and was restrained and handcuffed by a local police officer, Desirae Garza, the girl's aunt, recounted to the New York Times.

May 27, 6:30 am
10-year-old survivor recalls gunman saying: 'You're all gonna die'

There was blood in the hallway and children were covered in it, one of the students who survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, told ABC News.

Salinas was a student in Irma Garcia's fourth-grade class. They were scheduled to graduate Thursday, but the ceremony was canceled because Garcia, another teacher and 19 third- and fourth-grade students were killed in Tuesday's massacre.

Salinas said his aunt dropped him off for school on Tuesday morning.

"It was a normal day until my teacher said we're on severe lockdown," he told ABC News, "and then there was shooting in the windows."

Salinas said the gunman came into his classroom, closed the door and told them, "You're all going to die," before opening fire.

"He shot the teacher and then he shot the kids," Salinas said, recalling the cries and yells of students around him.

-ABC News' Samira Said

May 26, 9:57 pm
Accused shooter's mother at one point worked at same establishment of gun purchase: Sources

Sources told ABC News the accused school shooter’s mother, Adriana Reyes, at one point worked at Oasis Outback, the same store where the gunman purchased two weapons just after his 18th birthday earlier this month.

The establishment is half gun retailer, half restaurant; Reyes’ employment was with the restaurant portion, sources say.

It is unclear if she had any role in her son’s purchase of the firearms. The owner of Oasis declined to comment to ABC News and added he would only speak with law enforcement at this time. Reyes has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman, Laura Romero and Victor Ordonez

May 26, 6:49 pm
Law enforcement examining if lockdown was audible to students, staff: Sources

The response by school officials and law enforcement is becoming a key focus in the ongoing investigation into the Uvalde school shooting, law enforcement sources told ABC News Thursday.

It is unclear whether any students and teachers heard an official call for a lockdown once the gunman entered the building, the sources said.

Additionally, investigators are looking into whether officers on site could have made other attempts to enter the school to end the gunman’s rampage faster, the sources said. Responding police were met with gunfire and called for tactical teams with proper equipment to enter the classroom and neutralize the gunman, according to the sources.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman, Josh Margolin, Aaron Katersky and Luke Barr

May 26, 5:19 pm
10-year-old survivor recalls moments after hearing shots fired

A student who was in the classroom next door to the one the gunman entered recounted to ABC News what she did next.

Gemma Lopez, 10, said she heard five to six gunshots and commotion outside her classroom at Robb Elementary School before a bullet whizzed by her arm and into the wall. She recalled seeing a puff of smoke, which is when she knew they were all in danger.

She said she turned off the lights and then ducked under the tables -- what she learned to do in the active shooter training she has undergone since kindergarten. There were no locks inside and they did not have a key in the classroom to lock the door from the inside, she said.

Authorities yelled at the gunman to put down his weapon, to which he reportedly shouted in response, "Leave me alone please," in Spanish, Gemma recalled.

Gemma said her best friend, Amerie Jo Garza, was one of the 19 children killed in the massacre.

-ABC News' Matt Gutman and Olivia Osteen

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Time is the number-one enemy': Did police in Uvalde ignore their own training?

Jesse Ortiz

(UVALDE, Texas) -- Two months before Tuesday's mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead, the Uvalde school district hosted an all-day training session for local police and other school-based law enforcement officers focused on "active shooter response."

"First responders to the active shooter scene will usually be required to place themselves in harm's way," according to a lengthy course description posted online by the Texas agency that developed the training. "Time is the number-one enemy during active shooter response. ... The best hope that innocent victims have is that officers immediately move into action to isolate, distract or neutralize the threat, even if that means one officer acting alone."

Now relatives of victims and neighbors of Uvalde's Robb Elementary School are raising questions over how police officers who first arrived on the scene handled the situation -- including whether they followed their own training.

At a press conference on Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw acknowledged that officers on the scene miscalculated what was unfolding, failing to go after the gunman sooner.

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course it wasn't the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period," he said.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the DPS, Lt. Chris Olivarez, said on national TV that at one point on Tuesday, police officers on the scene decided to "focus" on evacuating students and teachers "around the school," instead of racing to the shooter's location -- even as they heard more gunshots.

"They kept hearing the gunfire as they were doing this, as they were performing these rescues," Olivarez said Wednesday on CBS.

ABC News contributor John Cohen, formerly the top counterterrorism official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and himself a former police officer, said that response "would seem to be inconsistent with accepted practice."

"What we are hearing from Texas law enforcement officials seems to be inconsistent with the operational philosophy that has guided the response to active shooter situations for well over a decade," Cohen said. "Having been a police officer, it's a scary job -- but what the public expects is that when confronted with those situations, the officer is going to do what they need to do in order to protect the public."

A man who lives across the street from Robb Elementary School, Jesse Ortiz, told ABC News that he watched on Tuesday as officers took cover behind a vehicle.

"I said, 'Why aren't you going inside? Why aren't you going inside?'" he recalled.

Videos posted online show angry parents outside the school, urging police officers to take more action.

In the wake of the 1999 high school shooting in Columbine, Colorado, where 12 students and one teacher were killed, federal and state law enforcement officials developed new practices for equipping and training first responders. As a result, Cohen said, it has become "generally accepted" that the first officers on-scene must find and "engage" the shooter as soon as possible, even if that means putting their own lives at risk.

In 2019, the International Association of Chiefs of Police's policy center published an "issues paper" on active-shooter situations, which noted that "current thinking reemphasizes that, given proper justification as defined by law and agency policy, taking immediate action during active shooter incidents, rather than waiting for specially equipped and trained officers, can save lives and prevent serious injuries."

"[I]t has been recognized that even one or two armed officers can make a difference in the outcome of active shootings by taking swift, but calculated, individual or coordinated action," the paper said. "Time lost by delayed action is likely to result in additional casualties."

Over the past decade, law enforcement officers in cities and states across the country have received training reflecting such policies, according to Cohen. The course that the Uvalde school district hosted in March was developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which oversees the certification of police officers throughout the state and requires school-based officers to take the "active shooter response" course.

On Thursday, a top Texas Department of Public Safety official held a press conference seeking to clarify what unfolded two days earlier -- though he didn't answer some key questions.

Victor Escalon, director of the DPS South Texas Region, told reporters that about four minutes after the shooter first entered the school, "initial officers" on scene "receive[d] gunfire" and "[didn't] make entry initially because of the gunfire." At that point, officers call for "additional resources," including tactical teams, body armor, and other equipment, and they also begin evacuating students and teachers, Escalon said.

It was "a complex situation" with "a lot going on," Escalon said. About an hour after the shooter first opened fire inside the school, a tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol arrived, entered the school with other law enforcement, and then killed the shooter, according to Escalon.

Toward the end of the press conference, a reporter asked Escalon, "Did you follow best practices for active shooter scenarios?"

Escalon didn't answer, instead telling reporters, "I have taken all your questions into consideration ... we will answer those questions."

In 2014, the FBI released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that had occurred since 2000. It highlighted "the damage that can occur in a matter of minutes," noting that the vast majority of active shooter incidents ended in five minutes or less -- and more than a third of those whose durations could be ascertained ended in two minutes or less.

"Officers need to operate in a way that not only protects their safety, because a dead officer is not going to [help], but at the same time, the absolute number-one priority for a law enforcement officer responding to the scene is to ... prevent people from being killed or injured," Cohen said.

"That's why they're there," said Cohen. "That's why they took the oath."

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Funerals for Buffalo shooting victims continue as nation grapples with gun violence

Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- They were grandparents, parents, friends and family, and even as the nation grapples with another mass shooting, the victims of the Buffalo, New York, shooting continue to be laid to rest this weekend.

As families continue to grieve the May 14 tragedy, four victims will be laid to rest over the next several days.

Geraldine Talley, 62

Talley is remembered by her friends and family "as a beautiful spirit, her dimpled smile and immense love for her family."

She loved spending time with family, sitting by the water and baking, according to her obituary. Celebrated by a long line of children, siblings, nieces and nephews, she will be laid to rest on Friday at the Mount Aaron Missionary Baptist Church in Buffalo.

Talley was one of nine siblings and was "an amazing sister, mother, aunt," Kaye Chapman-Johnson, her younger sister, told ABC News. "She just was truly an amazing woman. And I'm going to miss her dearly."

Andre Mackniel, 53

Mackniel was a Buffalo native and a stay-at-home dad who loved to play the guitar, write poems, listen to music and watch basketball, according to his obituary.

He is survived by his fiancee Tracey Maciuliwicz, as well as their son, Andre Jr. His family and friends will gather at the Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo on Friday to celebrate his life.

Margus Morrison, 52

Services will be held for Morgan on Friday at True Bethel Baptist Church.

In a text message, Cassandra Demps, his stepdaughter, told ABC News that he was "a great father, wonderful partner" who was "funny" and "always willing to help his family."

Morrison is "a soul that will always be missed," she added.

Ruth Whitfield, 86

Whitfield, the eldest victim of the Buffalo tragedy, will be the last victim laid to rest when it takes place Sunday.

She is survived by many loved ones, including her partner of 68 years, Garnell W. Whitfield, Sr.; her four children, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, five great-great-grandchildren and seven siblings.

Garnell Whitfield, her son, described his mother's devotion to her family, especially her husband, whose health has been declining over the past eight years.

"She was there just about every day, taking care of him, making sure he was well cared for by the staff, washing, ironing his clothes, making sure he was dressed appropriately, making sure his nails were cut and clean and shaved," he said. "All of that. Every day."

After suffering "a very difficult childhood," when she became a mother, Ruth Whitfield "was all about family," Garnell Whitfield said.

"And she rose above it, and she raised us in spite of all of that, being very poor," he said. "She raised us to be productive men and women."

Her homegoing service will be held on Saturday at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo.

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Five dead, two hurt in Pennsylvania house explosion: Officials


(POTTSTOWN, Pa.) -- Five people were killed and two others were hurt in a house explosion in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Thursday night, officials said.

Four of the five victims killed were children, ABC Philadelphia station WPVI reported.

One of the injured is in critical but stable condition, while the second surviving victim is in surgery for unknown injuries, Pottstown Borough Manager Justin Keller said at a Friday press conference.

Two homes are completely destroyed and other homes suffered damage, he said.

It's not yet clear what caused the explosion, which took place just after 8 p.m. on North Washington Street, Keller said.

It's believed everyone has been accounted for, Keller said.

Resident Christian Gonzalez told WPVI he initially thought the explosion was thunder.

"It shook the area," he said.

Pottstown schools are closed Friday in the wake of the deadly incident.

Pottstown is located about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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Orphaned children of teacher killed in Texas elementary school shooting attend church service

Uvalde CISD

(UVALDE, Texas) -- The four children of Irma and Joe Garcia turned to their faith and community as they attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday night.

Cristian, Jose, Lyliana and Alysandra Garcia were embraced by Rev. Eduardo Morales and parishioners.

Irma was one of two teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde on Tuesday. The family’s patriarch, Joe Garcia, suffered a fatal heart attack earlier Thursday, just two days after his wife was shot to death, his family confirmed.

“They were good church-going people, always willing to help, always seeing what they could do to be there for the community, not only their children, and I hope that we remember how giving they were, how loving they were," Morales told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV of the Garcias.

The couple were supposed to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary later this year.

Irma Garcia was a fourth grade teacher at Robb Elementary School and had been teaching for the last 23 years. She and her husband had been married for 24 years, according to a biography page on the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District website.

She died Tuesday, after a gunman entered the school and opened fire, killing Garcia, co-teacher Eva Mireles and at least 19 children, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

As the Uvalde community continues to reel from the aftermath of the mass shooting, faith leaders have sprung into action, reaching out to support the local community. A Lutheran organization has also sent trained comfort dogs to Uvalde, a city about 84 miles west of San Antonio, after being invited to respond following Tuesday’s tragedy.

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Student who survived Texas school shooting recalls gunman saying: 'You're all gonna die'

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- There was blood in the hallway and children were covered in it, one of the students who survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, told ABC News.

"[The shooter] came in and said, 'You're all gonna die,' and just started shooting," Samuel Salinas, 10, recalled in an interview airing Friday on "Good Morning America."

Salinas was a student in Irma Garcia's fourth-grade class. They were scheduled to graduate Thursday, but the ceremony was canceled because Garcia, another teacher and 19 third- and fourth-grade students were killed in Tuesday's massacre. Another 17 people were wounded, including three law enforcement officers.

The gunman, Salvador Ramos, allegedly purchased two assault rifles just days after turning 18 and used them to carry out the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history, killing 21 people, according to authorities.

Some of the children and teachers who walked into school that day had no idea it would be their last.

'It was a normal day until...'

Salinas, whose mother died in a car accident in 2019, said his aunt dropped him off for school on Tuesday morning.

"It was a normal day until my teacher said we're on severe lockdown," he told ABC News, "and then there was shooting in the windows."

Salinas said the gunman came into his classroom, closed the door and told them, "You're all going to die," before opening fire.

"He shot the teacher and then he shot the kids," Salinas said, recalling the cries and yells of students around him.

"I think he was aiming at me," Salinas said, but a chair was between him and the shooter, and the bullet hit the chair. Shrapnel struck Salinas' thigh and got lodged in his leg. Then he pretended to be dead, he said.

"I played dead so he wouldn't shoot me," he added, noting that a lot of other children did the same.

A cellphone in one of the student's desks started ringing, and as the girl was trying to silence it, Salinas heard gunshots. Police engaged the gunman and then moved desks out of the way to free the children, he said.

As police rushed him out of the room, Salinas said he saw the bodies of his teacher and other students.

"There was blood on the ground," he recalled. "And there were kids [...] full of blood."

Nightmares and fear

Now, Salinas said, he has nightmares of the shooter and of being shot.

When asked how it felt to join the growing list of school shooting victims, Salinas said the idea of going to fifth grade is simply overwhelming.

"Whenever there's a lockdown, then I'll be really scared," he told ABC News, fighting back tears.

Even the idea of reuniting with his friends who survived the shooting was too much for the 10-year-old to think about.

"I'm not looking forward to it," he said. "I'm just going to stay home and rest."

His father, Chris Salinas, sat quietly beside him as he recounted the experience. It was the first time he had heard the details of his son’s encounter and it nearly brought him to tears.

The one message the fourth-grader said he has for his fellow surviving classmates at Robb Elementary School: "I'm glad you're alive."

ABC News' Lisa Sivertsen in Los Angeles and Izzy Alvarez in Uvalde contributed to this report.

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Father of Sandy Hook shooting victim speaks out after Texas killings

DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- When Carlos Soto saw a state police officer walking toward him with his head down, on that fateful day of Dec. 14, 2012, after a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, he “already knew that she was gone.”

Soto's daughter, Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook, died in the deadly school rampage that killed six adults and 20 children.

“That day was the hardest day of my life,” he told ABC News' "Start Here" host Brad Mielke.

Soto shared his grief as a father two days after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults.

The mass shootings in Uvalde and Newtown, separated by less than a decade, are among the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

“Today we send our kids to school and we don’t know if they’ll be safe,” said Soto.

Soto and his family have since gone on to create a scholarship fund in honor of Victoria, organize an annual 5K for teachers in her memory, and, in 2014, they joined the lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington Arms, who manufactured the Bushmaster AR-15 that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting, settled with the families this year for $73 million.

Soto also has made a point to speak with other parents who have lost children to school shootings. He told ABC News’ Mielke that parents ask, “Carlos, how can you do it?”

“My daughter is gone,” he said, “but she is always by my heart telling me what to say and what to do. She passed the torch to me.”

It doesn’t get easier, he said.

“The best way is to talk about it. Don't keep it inside of you” he said, “because it will eat you up. You have to keep going forward.”

Soto became impassioned when the conversation turned to the political influence of gun manufacturers who lobby the government to prevent gun control legislation.

“The only way it’s gonna be changed,” he said, "is if we take our vote and remove these people out of there.”

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What the numbers show on Americans' opinions of gun control measures

Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Gun control measures are once again being debated after one of the worst school mass shootings ever has shattered a Texas community.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde. The suspect had legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles in the days following his 18th birthday, authorities said.

Gun laws vary widely by state, with Texas home to some of the weakest in the country, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Republican lawmakers in the state have repeatedly loosened gun restrictions even after recent mass shootings there.

In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, several members of Congress have said they will look at gun control legislation when they return from their recess next week -- including potential measures that show wide support among Americans.

"Knowing we can't turn back the clock to prevent this tragedy from occurring, the obvious question then is how do we prevent something like this from happening," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on the Senate floor Thursday. "I'm eager to see whether there are any gaps that might have done something to make this attack less likely, that might have actually even prevented this attack from taking place."

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Wednesday that he's open to supporting certain gun control measures -- including expanded background checks.

"Improving our background check capability makes sense," Romney said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said Wednesday that the House next month will move on a bill to create a national "red flag" law. The proposed bill would allow family members or law enforcement officers to "petition for an extreme risk protection order with respect to an individual who poses a risk to themselves or others."

Universal background checks and red flag laws are widely supported by the public. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in September 2019 found 89% support for universal background checks and 86% support for red flag laws.

There was broad bipartisan support, as well; mandatory background checks and red flag laws won support from at least eight in 10 Republicans and conservatives, and as many or more of all others, the poll found.

An April 2021 Quinnipiac University poll on gun laws similarly found overwhelming support for requiring background checks for all gun buyers (89%). Support was similarly high among Republicans (84%).

There was less broad support for other gun control measures. The 2019 ABC News/Washington Post poll found that six in 10 support banning high-capacity ammunition clips and 56% support banning the sale of assault weapons. Support for an assault weapons ban varied greatly along political lines, with 81% of Democrats, 55% of independents and 33% of Republicans in favor.

Additionally, the poll found that 52% support a mandatory buyback program in which the government would require owners to turn in their assault weapons in exchange for payment.

The 2021 Quinnipiac University poll was similarly divided on other gun control measures, with 52% support for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons and 51% support for a nationwide ban on sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

In the Uvalde massacre, the gunman had a total of seven 30-round magazines with him in the classroom where the shooting took place, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

One 30-round magazine was in an AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting and six magazines were carried on a tactical vest worn by the shooter, with the potential to hold 210 rounds.

It is unclear how many rounds were expended.

In the massacre's aftermath, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would be voting on gun control measures, though it's unclear on what policies exactly.

"Let me be clear -- we are going to vote on gun legislation," he said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "The American people are tired of moments of silence, tired of the kind words offering thoughts and prayers."

ABC News' Lalee Ibssa and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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Accused Texas gunman sent concerning messages to over a dozen people in days before shooting

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- In the days and weeks before one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, the accused Robb Elementary gunman appears to have sent disturbing messages -- including claims about intentions of violence at school -- to numerous young people he met online, leaving a trail of digital red flags that appears to have gone unnoticed.

Over a dozen people tell ABC News that the accused gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, sent them concerning messages, across multiple social media platforms, in the days leading up to the massacre.

Hours before the massacre, Ramos allegedly messaged a young girl on Instagram saying that he had a secret he wanted to tell her, according to messages reviewed by ABC News, the contents of which law enforcement sources say are part of the ongoing investigation into the shooting. Ramos had allegedly tagged the girl in a photo of two guns days earlier.

In another message allegedly sent the morning of the shooting, Ramos sent a photo of a gun lying on a bed, according to a user who shared direct messages from the suspect's alleged account with ABC News. She replied, asking, "Why'd u send me a pic of a gun."

And moments before the attack, the accused gunman allegedly sent a string of messages to a young girl in Germany who he had met on the social media app Yubo, detailing that he had shot his grandmother and was heading to the school for his next target, according to messages reviewed by ABC News.

In an interview with ABC News, the young girl, who asked to be referred to as "Cece," said that since the shooting she has been asking herself, "What if I could change the outcome, what if I could change his mind to not do this?" Cece said she regretted not putting together why Ramos had "bought two rifles on his birthday, May 16, and ordered a package full with ammunitions."

Cece said that, in hindsight, there were also other warning signs -- including the fact that Ramos asked others on Yubo if they wanted to be famous.

Another user on Instagram showed ABC News alleged messages from Ramos saying his preferred weapon is the AR-15, which was the assault weapon used in the Texas shooting.

A week before the shooting, Ramos sent another Yubo user a message telling her he would make her famous if she followed him back on Instagram, according to messages reviewed by ABC News.

And another young user told ABC News that the Ramos was on Yubo the day before the massacre and that he implied that something would occur the next day.

That user, who lives in Greece and asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News she tried to report Ramos to Yubo -- but that "regardless of how many times he was reported ... he would still come back."

A spokesperson for Yubo, when asked by ABC News if Ramos' account had been flagged, said that "at this stage, we are not legally able to release any specific user information outside of direct requests from law enforcement."

The company "can confirm that we are investigating an account that has since been banned from the platform" the Yubo spokesperson said. "We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable loss and are fully cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation."

The majority of the users who Ramos allegedly messaged in the days leading up to the shooting told ABC News that they were first contacted by him on Yubo, which has been described as a dating app for teens. The users he communicated with are predominantly high-school age. Most said they did not report the messages and didn't take them seriously.

In the weeks leading up to the deadly attack, Ramos also appeared to have made efforts to meet some of the users he had met on Yubo in person, according to messages shown to ABC News.

"He was supposed to meet up with me," a young girl told ABC News before expressing relief. "I just never really texted him back."

The user showed ABC News messages allegedly showing that Ramos had planned to meet up with her in late April.

"He would mostly follow girls who he thought were attractive," another Yubo user told ABC News. "And asked to meet up with them."

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Mothers mourn children killed in Texas school shooting: 'I lost a piece of my heart'

ABC News

(UVALDE, Texas) -- The mothers of Rojelio Torres and Tess Mata, two 10-year-olds killed in the Texas elementary school shooting, spoke with ABC News about their heartbreak.

"Two of my sons go to that school, but I only got one back," said Evadulia Orta, the mother of Rojelio and three other children.

At least 19 children and two teachers were killed after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Rojelio was described by his mother as a "very smart and loving child."

"I'm going to miss him because he was my life," said Orta. "All my kids are my life, but losing that little piece of my heart, I lost my son."

Several families were left waiting at a local civic center to hear whether or not their children had survived the attack. Among them were Orta as well as Veronica Mata, the mother of 10-year-old Tess, who was killed.

Tess' father, Jerry Mata, was originally at the school, desperate to go inside and find his daughter, but was held back by law enforcement. At the civic center, law enforcement corralled all the families that still had missing children and had them wait.

The family says dozens of people were waiting in one big room, pacing and crying for hours before being called up by law enforcement and notified.

Orta said she was waiting for her child to be bussed to the civic center until the last bus came: "They said, 'There's a bus coming, there's a last bus coming.' It never came."

She checked hospitals near Uvalde and in San Antonio, but there was no word of her son.

The Mata family says they are angry nothing has been done by politicians to prevent such shootings, and they say they haven't gotten any information from police about the investigation into the attack.

Their daughter Tess is described by the family as a bubbly little girl who loved to dance and had dreams of being TikTok famous.

"She deserves to be remembered," Veronica Mata said. "She put a smile on everybody's face every time she was always dancing. She always had the biggest smile ever. So I want her to be remembered, for the awesome little girl that she was."

ABC News' James Scholz and Nery Ynclan contributed to this report.

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Protests planned as annual NRA meeting set to take place in Texas days after mass shooting

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

(HOUSTON) -- The nation's largest pro-gun lobby is poised to gather in Texas days after one of the worst mass shootings in recent U.S. history unfolded in the state.

Despite demands to cancel the annual meeting in light of the tragedy, the National Rifle Association's Annual Leadership Forum is scheduled to take place in Houston from Friday through Sunday.

The pro-gun gathering comes days after authorities said an 18-year-old armed with an AR-15-style rifle opened fire in an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers and wounding 17 people.

Groups including the Harris County Democratic Party, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and March For Our Lives plan to rally outside the convention hall Friday, calling for gun reform in the wake of the massacre.

"Every single speaker at the NRA event this weekend bears responsibility for the innocent lives lost to gun violence," the Harris County Democratic Party said on Facebook. "It is past time for thoughts and prayers."

The NRA had the option of delaying the convention, particularly as families prepare to bury those killed in the shooting, but "did not choose to do so," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a press briefing Thursday. He noted that the city does not have the "legal right" to cancel a convention.

The city will be providing security for those attending the meeting, he said, as officials urged peace from protestors and attendees. Protest barricades will also be set up, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.

"We will respect everybody's right to protest and speak their concerns and their voice," Finner said during the briefing. "We will not tolerate destruction of property, nor will we tolerate people assaulting individuals."

The annual NRA meeting typically draws up to 80,000 members, according to the association. Ahead of the convention, the NRA said in a statement that the organization will "reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure."

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the forum on Friday. Firearms, ammunition, knives, toy guns and other items will be prohibited from that event, per a U.S. Secret Service notice.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday he was unsure if he would attend the meeting.

"I'm living moment-to-moment right now," he said when asked about his plans during a briefing. "My heart, my head and my body are in Uvalde right now, and I'm here to help the people who are hurting."

Singer Don McLean backed out of performing at the event in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting tragedy.

"In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week," he said in a statement. "I'm sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events, as well. After all, we are all Americans."

ABC News' Aliyah Thomas contributed to this report.

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Students walk out of schools in protest of gun violence

Emily Elconin/Getty Images, FILE

(NEW YORK) -- Days after at least 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, students at schools around the country staged walkouts to protest gun violence.

In Michigan, students at Oxford High School, where a school shooting occurred in November, staged a walkout at 12 p.m. on Thursday. Four students were killed in the shooting.

Students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, also walked out of class, in support of the national gun safety movement. The school was the site of a shooting in November 2019, in which two students were killed.

Students also staged walkouts at schools in Port Washington, New York, and Falls Church, Virginia.

Student organizers say at least 600 students walked out of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School in Port Washington earlier this afternoon.

Emma Janoff, an 11th grader at Schreiber and a member of 'Students Demand Action', a national organization against gun violence, says she got active on gun control policy and school safety following the 2018 Parkland High School shooting.

"You see news every day about kids getting shot and people your age dying and it's just incredibly sad and unbelievable, especially to see like kids younger and kids my age," Janoff told ABC News. "I cant imagine that being me; but it is imaginable because it happens so often."

The 17 year-old says her school's administration was in support of the walkout and she hopes the over 200 planned demonstrations across the country send a clear message that students are a "united front."

A walkout may not necessarily change legislation, Janoff said, but these actions show "students are still united in this."

She said that although most students aren't old enough to vote, they still want to see change and are willing to take measures to have their voices heard in politics.

"Students don't have to be quiet about it just because they're a kid," Janoff said.

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