♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight, tragedy in texas. a gunman opening fire in an elementary school. >> he starts shooting and all kinds of smoke is in the room. >> killing at least 19 children. >> we need to respond to south grove and mill street, establish a perimeter -- >> a parent's worst nightmare. >> i can't find my daughter. >> how law enforcement says he got inside the school. >> what are we doing? >> impassioned pleas from the senate floor. >> what are we doing? nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day. >> the shared pain. survivors and parents of children killed in past school shootings speak out. why they say enough is enough. this special edition of "nightline," "texas tragedy:
at least 19 children murdered, shot dead with a high-powered rifle. two teachers also killed. an elementary school turned killing field. there are new details this evening, none of them good, none of it easy to hear. the best we can hope for tonight is for context. in these early hours, there is no comfort to be had. abc's marieya villarreal arrived at the scene in uvalde, texas, shortly after the shooting. she joins us tonight. >> reporter: this is still a very active scene here at the elementary school, and it will continue to look like this throughout the night and probably into tomorrow morning as well. we understand right now the texas rangers are now leading this investigation. they brought in a mobile crime scene to help process what is happening inside the school. right now it was too much for local law enforcement to handle. the weight of the tragedy, too much for their hearts as well. tonight, horror and heartbreak in this tiny south texas community.
earlier today, a mass shooting at robb elementary school in uvalde, texas. killing at least 21 people, including 19 children. the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the third-deadliest in america since virginia tech. >> the size of the devastation here, the number of lives lost, is very significant. >> this elementary, elementary-age kids. 9, 10. totally helpless, totally harmless. shot in their own classroom. that image should burn in people's memory as to, we shouldn't have to relive sandy hook. >> reporter: officials say the alleged gunman, salvador ramos, also shot his own grandmother before attacking students at the elementary school. >> what happened in uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of texas. >> reporter: among those who lost their lives, 10-year-old javier lopez, who was in the fourth grade.
his family sharing this photo with us this evening. 19 students were killed and 2 teachers, including fourth grade teacher eva mireles. >> the school has children in second, third, and fourth grade -- >> reporter: two responding officers also shot but are expected to survive. officials say the alleged shooter was killed by responding law enforcement. >> mr. ramos, the shooter, he himself is deceased. and it's believed that responding officers killed him. >> good evening, fellow americans. >> reporter: tonight, president biden speaking to the country on yet another mass shooting, just days after ten people were killed in a grocery store in buffalo, new york. >> i'd hoped, when i became president, i would not have to do this again. another massacre. uvalde, texas.
an elementary school. beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. >> reporter: the rampage began late this morning. officials say the alleged shooter shot his grandmother, then turned to the school. 11:32 a.m. local time. >> an 18-year-old male who was in uvalde, it's believed he abandoned his vehicle -- >> there's a car crash outside robb elementary school. the suspect we're told is immediately engaged by a uvalde independent school district police officer. and that doesn't stop the shooter. he's wearing body armor. he shoots the police officer and then makes his way inside the school. >> we need to respond to south grove and mill street to establish a perimeter -- >> reporter: multiple state and local law enforcement, fbi, atf, and border patrol racing to respond. sources say authorities have recovered an ar-15 style rifle and numerous magazines.
the school with some 600 students locked down, reportedly students crawling through windows to escape. parents desperate for any information. >> we just hear all kinds of gunshots going on, like nonstop, like constantly gunshots. we're all scared, on the ground, fearing for our lives. >> reporter: in the mayhem, families trying to desperately to reunite with their loved ones. one father here searching for his 10-year-old daughter. >> if we could get to the -- the funeral home -- >> why would you ask me that? >> because we can't find my daughter. >> what does it say about where we are right now? this is a small town, man. >> pretty sad. really sad. i don't know what this world's coming to. >> reporter: we're also learning more about who committed this heinous attack. officials say the alleged killer, 18-year-old salvador
ramos, was a student at uvalde high school. he's believed to have acted alone. law enforcement tell abc news they're investigating social media accounts linked to the alleged shooter which include images of guns and other violent material. law enforcement also telling abc news that he reportedly sent videos and photos of guns to users on various social media platforms. one user saying last week he showed himself with guns making statements like "wait until tomorrow." >> law enforcement is collectin can get their hands on in reference to social media, friends, associates, families, what did they see, what did they hear? my guess even by now, they've probably got a pretty good picture of who he is, what motivated him, and how he acquired this ar-15. >> reporter: located 80 miles west of san antonio, uvalde is a small town with just over 16,000 people living here. robb elementary school has about
600 students in the second, third, and fourth grades. the school's last day was supposed to be this thursday. the close-knit community tonight feeling the shock. today's shooting comes amid what seems like an explosion of violence across the country. just ten days after a racially motivated mass shooting in buffalo, new york, where another 18-year-old killed ten people, all black, at a tops supermarket. >> he shot a woman, he shot a deacon, he shot another woman, then he went in the store and started shooting again. >> reporter: this tragedy also drawing a parallel to the horrifying mass shooting at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, nearly a decade ago. that killer shooting his mother in their home before driving to the elementary school and killing 20 schoolchildren and 6 teachers. connecticut senator chris murphy, who represented newtown's district in congress when the tragedy occurred, tonight giving an impassioned
speech from the senate floor. >> what are we doing? our kids are living in fear. every single time they set foot in the classroom, they think they're going to be next. what are we doing? nowhere else does that happen except here in the united states of america. and it is a choice. it is our choice to let it continue. what are we doing? >> reporter: it's become a sobering, shattering reality in this country. from columbine to virginia tech to newtown and parkland. now too many generations of students, from adolescents to young adulthood, knowing the fear of violence in their classrooms. >> certainly on a night like tonight, one of those nights that it is right for us, the people, to say, why aren't we doing more to keep our children safe? don't my children and your
children have the right to be able to live? what about that constitutional right? we've tried for 25 years to keep our kids safe. and we're not doing enough to keep them safe. >> reporter: tonight, a community mourns its own. with so many asking here, why now? and what will anybody do about it? >> i feel fine going back to school, but like, i didn't feel worried -- a part inside me feels like, what if this ever happens again, what if it does happen again? >> our thanks to mireya. i'm joined by abc news chief justice correspondent pierre thomas. it's been a long day and you've been reporting these stories for years now. we've seen a disturbing rise in mass shootings. what are your sources in law enforcement saying tonight? >> reporter: law enforcement sources tonight are devastated. the fact that so many children were killed is heartbreaking. and it's upsetting to everyone. they're concerned about
copycats. in fact, there was a big concern after buffalo, and now this. we're in the midst of a surge. both in terms of active shooter incidents and mass shootings. it all began during the pandemic. in 2019, there were 417 mass shootings. last year, the number jumped to 693. that's just an incredible spike. authorities have long worried about lone wolves, specifically extremists, to include white supremacists, supporters of isis, and they are deeply concerned about deeply disturbed individuals as well, byron. >> pierre, we have a sense of what the pundits and politicians will say in the days to come. what do those in law enforcement say has to be done? >> reporter: they say we've got to do a better job of identifying these shooters before they kill. time and time again, we see that there are signals missed. these shooters have posted something on social media, they've said something to family or friends, then we find out after the fact.
we don't know if that will be the case this time, but tonight law enforcement is dissecting this man's life, trying to answer the question of why? >> abc's pierre thomas, thank you so much, my friend, we'll see you down the road. >> thank you. up next, we'll speak with the parkland survivor and families all personally impacted by gun violence. each lasting 4 hours or more you're not the only one with questions about botox®. botox® prevents headaches in adults with chronic migraine before they even start—with about 10 minutes of treatment once every 3 months. so, ask your doctor if botox® is right for you, and if a sample is available. effects of botox® may spread hours to weeks after injection causing serious symptoms. alert your doctor right away, as difficulty swallowing, speaking, breathing, eye problems, or muscle weakness can be signs of a life-threatening condition. side effects may include allergic reactions, neck and injection site pain, fatigue, and headache. don't receive botox® if there's a skin infection.
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joining me now is manuel oliver, nicole hockley, and alayah eastman. thank you for joining us on what is a difficult night for our nation, i imagine a difficult night for you and your families. nicole, your 6-year-old son dylan was killed at sandy hook elementary. many people thought that tragedy would be the defining moment, that there would finally be a change in our gun laws. yet nearly ten years later, here we are. what goes through your heart and mind on a night like this? >> today is eerily similar to what happened in sandy hook. as we learn more details, it seems to become even more similar. so i've been in a state of shock most of today and reliving trauma that seems to be very fresh all over again. and sadness and anger mixed together with a lot of fury compelling me to more action. you mentioned that a lot of people thought sandy hook was the defining moment.
now there's, sadly, thousands upon thousands of people that have been impacted by gun violence, by school shootings, in their communities for the last ten years. >> manny, it's been four years since you lost your son, joaquin, in parkland. what stirs in your spirit on a night like this, when more children are killed in school? >> it's been four years. a little more than four years. every single day, we try to prevent things from happening. we are out there. when i say we, i'm not only talking about my wife, patricia, and myself. i'm talking about all the members of this roundtable. we know each other. it's so sad that we have to meet again here. i've seen this place before. but there's thousands of americans that have been trying to send a message that, you don't need to go through this to understand that these must be stopped.
today the whole nation has that emotional attachment to the victims. i also think that the fact that we're talking about kids, it makes it even harder. this must be stopped. it's sad that we needed this to happen to have the white house and representatives from congress and senate sharing their thoughts. probably they will start a debate, hopefully they will. if not, all three of us in this call will, i promise you, tomorrow, we'll keep on doing what we've been doing for the last five years, in some cases for the last ten years. >> aaliyah, you are a survivor of what happened at parkland, that shooting. now an advocate for gun violence prevention. what is the most realistic approach to get washington on board for change, do you think? >> mostly at this point, i don't
understand why they haven't already been on board. i think it's important to take a moment to recognize that these are elementary school children. i experienced parkland at the age of 16, and i feel like i barely am figuring out how to deal with the trauma that i'm suffering from. so i can't even imagine elementary school children suffering from this horror, this violence, that entered their classrooms. and i cannot fathom why politicians don't take this serious. i can't fathom why they don't feel the need to implement change. this should have been done years ago. years before parkland. years before sandy hook. there should have been action. and i hope today -- we can only pray that today they listen to our voices and listen to young ones. but we've been saying this how long now? i really am so disappointed. i believe they should all be ashamed of theirselves because this is unacceptable.
>> manny, for me it seems almost palpable in your spirit as i see and hear you this evening, the anger. talk to me about that. i, too, am a father. i can't imagine losing a child in this way. >> well, you know what? we had enough. we had enough. this is personal now. we are very mad. it's not that we are sad, we are mad. and we have the will of saying things by their name, calling people out, hold anyone accountable. from senate through congress to the white house. from local politicians. i'm sick of this. this is not a republican or democratic thing.
i'm not falling to that game. this is about saving lives. someone is making money with the blood of these kids. and will keep on making money tomorrow and after tomorrow if we don't do something. >> nicole, i'd like to ask this final question of you. i know over these years you're part of a growing family in this nation. when you have the opportunity, as i imagine that you will, to talk to some of the parents who are now experiencing what you have experienced and manny has eperienced, what might you say to them? >> you need to surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally and will embrace you and support you through this, because you're going to need them. and give yourself the space and grace to get through this. and it is -- it's a pain that at this moment in time you can't comprehend, and it's enduring. but you will find a way through
it in some way, in your own way. >> nicole and manny, thank you for your kindness and your grace. aaliyah, thank you. your youthful passion and intensity for the subject matter gives us all hope that change will come at some point. thank you all so much. godspeed to each of you. and we'll be right back with "the final word." e end. you have now reached the end of the sleep app. you're the first person to actually do that. now i want to say congratulations, but it's also disappointing. what do you mean? that's it? i've got nothing left. hey if i were you, i'd try warm milk. enough out of you! hi! oh go.. is this really helping? good days start with good nights, so you may want to talk to your doctor about both. [ sleep app ] i'm still here. oh boy.
"gma" will have more in the morning. and we'll see you tomorrow night from uvalde, texas. the book of ecclesiastes says, for everything there is a season. america, it seems certain, we are in the midst of a season. what happens next is not left solely to fade. it is also left to us. thanks for the company. stay safe. good night.