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tv   Nightline  ABC  May 26, 2022 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, we're here in uvalde, texas, learning more about the young lives lost. >> i'm eternally grateful, i'm glad that god put me in her life and her in mine. >> chilling new details of the school shooting and the alleged gunman emerge. >> he had scars on his face, and he straight-out told them, you know, with a smile, "i did it myself because i like how it looks." >> how a community is coming together. >> all texans must come together and support the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy. plus as the country grapples with another mass shooting, calls for gun control growing louder. >> i'm sorry, i'm tired of the moments of silence.
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enough. >> but is the u.s. senate listening? >> the majority of americans support background checks, do you support it? >> this special edition of "nightline," "texas tragedy: horror at robb elementary," will be right back. dining including takeout with chase freedom unlimited. that's a lot of cash back. are you gonna stop me? uh-oh... i'm almost there... too late! boom! earn big time with chase freedom unlimited with no annual fee. how do you cashback? chase. make more of what's yours.
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♪ good evening.
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thank you for joining us from uvalde, texas, the scene of the latest american mass shooting where tonight heartache and grief, thick and overbearing as the texas summer heat. parents and families still coming to terms with the fact they will soon have to bury children. children who were still in elementary school along with two of their teachers. we have much to share with you. >> evil swept across uvalde yesterday. >> reporter: tonight, inside the hell that was an american grade school, officers running in, ready to take a life or give their own life if need be. >> we need to respond to south grove and mill street to establish a perimeter. >> reporter: new details emerging tonight. the 18-year-old male shooter entering a back door of robb elementary school, barricading himself inside a classroom for nearly an hour. third and fourth graders who were in the middle of their day suddenly thrust in the middle of chaos and violence. >> just so sick and disgusting, to have the intent to kill, to
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go to a little kids school and wish them harm, i mean, they're babies. >> reporter: the killer opening fire, taking the life of at least 19 students and two of their teachers. among those murdered, irma garcia, eva miralles, who had taught at the school nearly two decades. >> how much did it mean to work there? >> knowing her as a human being, she put 150% into everything. >> reporter: amber is her cousin, growing up together in uvalde just around the corner from the elementary school. >> she was an amazing mom. she raised an amazing, strong daughter. she is so loved. my intention to honor her name and let people know she was such an amazing, kind-hearted human being. >> reporter: portraits of the young lives ended beginning to become clear. rahelio torres. whose mother called him a smart and loving child. eliana torres. cousins annabella rodriguez and jackie coceres. 10-year-old xavier lopez. ocia garcia, whose grandfather
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said was the sweetest little boy he'd ever known. jace luivanos and cousin jala solgario. >> she was my artist. she had a lot of talent. >> reporter: amerie jo garza, who turned 10 two weeks ago. >> she was artistic. she was smart. she was her own person. she was a leader. she didn't try to be like anybody. she wanted to do things the way she wanted to do them. >> reporter: we spoke to her father earlier today. >> if you had another chance with your daughter what would you say to her? >> i'm eternally grateful, that i'm glad god put me in her life and her in mine, that i had the opportunity to be her father, that she made me proud, she did good. she was a phenomenal person. and my love for her was beyond measure. >> reporter: it was just before noon on tuesday when the alleged gunman shot his own grandmother at home. after an argument. before taking his grandparents' truck and crashing it near robb elementary. >> the crash alerts school
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police officers, and they immediately confront the gunman who emerges from the car with an ar-15 style rifle and starts to fire at officers. at one point, he moves into the school. and when he enters a classroom, that's where he barricades himself. >> reporter: alleged shooter 18-year-old salvador ramos shooting third and fourth graders along with their teachers. >> all ems units, stand by. do not attempt to get closer, we have gunfire. >> reporter: the gunman was in the school for a fairly long time, more than you care to think about, given the horror that unfolded inside. we're told agents from customs and border protection were the ones that ultimately fired the shots that killed him. >> reporter: texas governor abbott revealing the suspect was posting chilling private messages. the first message, that he was going to shoot his grandmother. >> the second post was, "i shot my grandmother." the third post, maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at
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the school, was, "i'm going to shoot an elementary school." >> reporter: outside the school, grief etched on the faces of parents and families waiting for their children. some never came out. pedro adami was one of the lucky ones. he was searching for his niece in the crowd of children when suddenly -- they spot one another. >> it's okay, we're right here, we're right here. it's okay, it's okay, we're right here, okay? hey, hey, we're right here, okay? >> reporter: 17 people were injured in the massacre. three children and one adult taken to university hospital. ut health, san antonio. where trauma surgeon dr. lillian liao treated them. >> when a high-velocity firearm enters a body, it basically creates a wave and a blast. so it looks like a body part got blown up, simply put. and so there's a lot of tissue that's going to go missing, that we cannot put back.
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>> reporter: sadly, it was not her first time treating victims of a mass shooting. she was on the front lines when a gunman opened fire inside a church in sunderland springs, texas, killing 26. >> the time where we responded to sutherland springs, i wasn't a mom. and this time, i am. i was grateful to be able to go home and hug my children. and also felt a little guilty that i was able to hug my children. and that i knew there were parents who couldn't. >> reporter: uvalde is a small texas town of 16,000 residents 80 miles west of san antonio. it's a place where just about everybody knows everybody connected by blood or proximity. >> the family of these men, communities, horrible killing. i will find time to meet with them. >> reporter: tonight archbishop
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gustavo garcia's task, as important and taxing as any here. make sense of the senseless. some political leaders have said, the issue is mental health. others have said, it's greater gun control. what say you? >> both. there is mental health. and especially after the pandemic. with the war. with social unrest. isolation. it's mental health for sure involved. but we cannot cover up with that. guns have been in all the situations that we have witnessed in the last years. >> reporter: there is talk tonight here of "texas tough," both body and soul. and they will need every ounce of it. >> is your faith shaken at all? >> no. no, no, no.
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i am strengthened by reality, human reality. a tragic one. and even stronger interior to engage with the people and to be for them. >> a night when faith matters. abc's chief national correspondent matt gutman has new details on the shooting suspect, and he's here with us right now. matt, what can you tell us? >> despite what governor abbott said earlier tonight, this buildup to the shooting rampage is littered with warning signs. we have learned that the friend of the accused gunman threatened to kill him. girls say he aggressively stalked them online. he reportedly posted videos of himself abusing animals on social media. posted pictures of guns. and the real question nagging this community tonight is why it wasn't stopped. tonight, investigators say the suspected texas elementary school shooter bought those two
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ar-style rifles on two separate days. the first one on may 17th just a day after his 18th birthday. and the other three days later on may 20th. both rifles purchased days before the rampage at oasis outback, a local sporting goods store. authorities say the 18-year-old suspect legally purchased those ars without a license, as well as multiple 30-bullet magazines and at least 375 rounds. the sale of large-capacity magazines and bullets is not regulated in texas. his grandfather telling me he knew nothing about the weapons. >> i didn't know he had weapons or nothing, or this or that. if i would have known, i would have reported him. >> you would have reported your own grandson? >> yes. i'm against all that. >> reporter: earlier, officials said the gunman was wearing body armor. now correcting themselves saying it was tactical gear. a vest designed to carry ammunition but not protective plates or fabric. tonight, texas governor greg abbott saying the suspect had no known mental health history, insisting that law enforcement
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had no warnings. >> there was no meaningful forewarning of this crime. >> reporter: but former friends and classmates of the suspect are painting a very different picture. one of a troublemaker who sometimes terrified his peers. >> i even remember one time he had scars on his face. and i remember somebody asking him, what happened, are you okay? because he showed up to school with them. and he just straight-out told them, you know, with a smile, "i did it myself because i like how it looks." >> reporter: tonight investigators are combing through the suspect's social media history where he allegedly posted videos of himself abusing animals as well as photos of guns. his classmate nathan romo telling him the suspect stalked after he ended their friendship. in the back of your head did you think, well, if there was anybody at school who would have done that, it's this kid? >> yeah, honestly. >> there were warning signs? >> a little bit. >> our thanks to matt. when we return, the robb elementary massacre is leading
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♪ ♪ the tragedy here in south texas is reverberating across the country, and people are frustrated and wondering where is the leadership? abc's congressional correspondent rachel scott has been asking that question all day on capitol hill. >> byron, americans woke up to yet another mass shooting in the united states. and they had one question on their minds.
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what, if anything, will lawmakers do about it? more than 1,000 miles from the horror in uvalde, texas, here in the nation's capital, in these halls of power, there has been no meaningful action on gun legislation since 1994. >> senator sinema, do you support changing the senate -- >> sorry, guys. >> -- rules in order to pass gun control legislation? 19 children are dead -- >> reporter: we're on a hunt for answers. from those in a position to create actual change. >> we need to be in the business of signaling to the american public and parents who are panicking right now that we're serious about protecting their kids. >> i can't ensure the american people there's any law we can pass to stop this shooting. >> reporter: the divide on solutions on full display. hot-button issues ranging from mental health -- >> unfortunately, we have mental health issues in this country. how do we address that?
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we know we have to have more security. >> reporter: to school safety. >> i think the answer is you do things that actually would make a difference, that would actually have a chance of preventing these things. like the school safety act that we're going to try to pass later today. >> reporter: and background checks. schumer is signaling there may not be a bill brought to the floor on gun control legislation. is that the right call? >> i know he put a bill up, and i'm hoping it comes to the floor for a vote. it will fail, and americans should know that. there are not right now, seemingly, 10 senators that want to do the most moderate of things, universal background checks. the majority of americans support expanding background checks, why don't you support it? >> we have background checks. we ought to enforce the laws we have on the books. >> reporter: polls show 56% of americans support a ban on assault weapons. 86% support a red flag law allowing authorities to temporarily take guns away from people determined to be dangerous. and 89% of americans actually
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support background checks on gun purchases. here in these halls, also on a mission, david hogg, survivor of the 2018 parkland school shooting, first spoke out as a 17-year-old. >> we're not trying to take your guns. we never have been, we never will. >> reporter: we followed hogg in those painful moments in the year after the shooting. >> when i was 17, we started. one of the first things that i said, we're the kids, you're the adults, you need to do something. i'm now an adult, it's time we do something. >> reporter: today he's 22. still fighting for change. but heartbroken. >> i'm frustrated, outraged. more than anything, i'm just exhausted. because we've done our job. we've done our job right. the mistake we made after parkland, as young people, we assumed we had a government that even halfway worked. >> reporter: outside of washington, the outrage palpable. >> when are we going to do something! >> reporter: steve kerr, coach for the golden state warriors, delivering a passionate plea to lawmakers for tougher gun laws.
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>> so i ask you, mitch mcconnell, i ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings -- i ask you, are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children? and our elderly? and our churchgoers? because that's what it looks like. >> we have been pushing for the assault weapons ban to pass since the sandy hook tragedy, for obvious reasons. the weapons of war do not belong in the hands of civilians. >> reporter: pol murray is chairwoman of newtown action alliance, a volunteer-led, grassroots nonprofit formed after the mass shooting at sandy hook elementary in newtown, connecticut, in 2012. 26 people killed. 20 of them children. it was following that tragedy that congress most recently came close to passing significant legislation to limit gun violence.
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president biden, then vice president, helped lead the efforts. >> we will do everything that we can, everything in our power, to reduce gun violence in this country. >> reporter: and one month after new town, democrats introduced a broad bill that included a ban on assault weapons. it was ultimately defeated. that bill was meant to renew a 1994 law against civilian ownership of assault weapons, which expired in 2004. >> i think democrats in the last year and a half, they've been holding back on passing more legislation. and we're hoping that this will embolden them to be stronger. >> it's more important who's running your local school board than who's sitting in the white house. >> reporter: andrew pomac's daughter meadow is one of the parkland shooting victims. he feels there's more state lawmakers and schools can do to stop mass shootings. >> we got a bill put in place that made every school and child safer in the state.
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we advocated for more police officers, more mental health, more money for security for schools. >> reporter: in texas, gun laws have actually loosened in recent years. despite the state being the scene of several mass shootings. today governor abbott insisting that guns were not the problem in tuesday's tragedy. >> we have a problem with mental health illness. >> reporter: interrupting abbott's press conference, former democratic congressman beto o'rourke. >> this is on you until you choose to do something different. this will continue to happen. >> reporter: across the lone star state on friday, the national rifle association will host its annual meeting. president trump and texas senator ted cruz will speak. the nra has contributed financially to several prominent republicans over the course of their careers, giving over $176,000 to ted cruz's campaign. nearly $1.4 million to missouri's josh hawley.
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a whopping $3.3 million to marco rubio of florida. the nra today offering condolences to the uvalde community, saying in part, as we gather in houston we will reflect on these events and pray for the victims. back in washington, parkland survivor hogg hopes for compromise. >> i'm here to figure out, what can we agree on? even if the outcome is one law that saves one life, that's worth it. >> our thanks to rachel. we'll be back with a final note. . tums vs. mozzarella stick when heartburn hits, fight back fast with tums chewy bites. fast heartburn relief in every bite. crunchy outside, chewy inside. ♪ tums, tums, tums, tums ♪ tums chewy bites ♪ we could walk forever ♪ ( ♪♪ ) ♪ walking on ♪ ♪ walking on the moon ♪
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finally tonight, it was nelson mandela who said there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. a question for all of us tonight. if our children deserve better, how do we get there? that's "nightline" for this evening. thanks for the company, america. from uvalde, texas, good night.


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