UVALDE, Texas—The 18-year-old gunman who opened fire at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 kids and two adults, bought two assault rifles on his birthday and appeared to send some ominous Instagram messages just hours before the massacre.
Salvador Ramos shot his grandmother, then crashed his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde at about 11:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Police pursued him as he ran into the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Texas officials said.
“As soon as he made entry into the school he started shooting children, teachers, whoever was in his way, he was shooting everybody,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez said.
Earlier on Tuesday, an Instagram account that appears to belong to Ramos sent direct messages to a teenager in Los Angeles, telling her he wanted to share a “lil secret,” according to screenshots shared by the recipient, who said she barely knew Ramos but had been randomly tagged by him in photos of guns before.
He said he’d text the person in an hour and she’d have to respond, but she said she might not be awake. The last thing he wrote was, “Ima air out.”
The same Instagram account was deleted shortly after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified him as the shooter. It featured photos and stories of automatic firearms—as well as selfies of someone who strongly resembled a photo of the killer shared by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The account posted an image three days ago of two rifles, including what appeared to be a Daniel Defense AR-15 with a high-capacity magazine. Another image from April 28 showed someone holding a magazine.
A TikTok account with the same handle and profile picture as the Instagram, also taken offline in the minutes following the Texas governor’s press conference, featured only a clip of a mobile game and the line “Kids be scared IRL.” Both accounts used the bio line TheBiggestOpp.
Texas State Sen. Gutierrez told CNN that Ramos, who only turned 18 days ago, purchased two assault rifles on his 18th birthday. It’s not clear if they were used in Tuesday’s massacre.
The Daily Dot reported that an Instagram friend of Ramos’ shared a screenshot with the news outlet that Ramos had sent showing a receipt for a gun he bought from Daniel Defense, an online gun seller.
Nayeli, an 18-year-old who declined to give her last name, told The Daily Beast late Tuesday that she and Ramos had been students together, but that he was not someone she knew well.
“I had a math class with him,” she said, adding, “He was pretty quiet in class.”