Information about the 18-year-old gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a school on Tuesday is beginning to emerge.
The event took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The gunman, shot and killed by a border patrol agent who responded to the emergency call, was 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. The New York Post was among the first to profile the high school student’s troubled past, noting that at one point, he cut “up his face with knives just “for fun.”
The Washington Post reported that Ramos’ friendship with Santos Valdez Jr. had been close but became strained after Ramos’ behavior began to “deteriorate.”
Valdez recalls that Ramos once showed up at a park with scratch marks across his face. When questioned about this, Ramos said a cat had attacked him.
“Then he told me the truth,” Valdez said, and revealed, “that he’d cut up his face with knives over and over and over.”
“I was like, ‘You’re crazy, bro, why would you do that?'”
Ramos replied that it was just “for fun.”
A report by KSAT notes that Ramos told classmates he cut himself “because I like how it looks.”
Valdez noted that Ramos would drive around town, egg cars and shoot people randomly with a BB gun.
Valdez also reported Ramos’ long-time interest in guns, noting that last year Ramos posted on social media images of automatic rifles that “he would have on his wish list.” Several days ago, Ramos posted photos of two rifles and referred to them as “my gun pics.”
Ramos’ grandfather, Rolando Reyes, 72, said “he wasn’t aware that his grandson had purchased two rifles at a gun shop in town,” and while he agreed that Ramos was quiet, Reyes said that “he didn’t appear violent.”
Crystal Foutz, 17, said, “Ramos would be aggressive for no reason,” and he posted videos that “showed him with guns and knives or boxing and training for fights.”
Foutz added: “I would see [TikTok videos] all the time and they would be like, ‘I could fight anyone, none of y’all can touch me … I’m untouchable.'”
Schoolmate Keanna Baxter, 17, said, “Like this still doesn’t feel real. It feels like I’m in a dream, like till this entire day.”
The Washington Post report notes friends and relatives saying that Ramos “was bullied throughout middle school for a speech impediment — a stutter and lisp.”
Ramos’ cousin Mia said she saw students mocking his impediment when he was in middle school. Ramos tried to ignore the bullying but reportedly told his grandmother he did not want to return to school.
“He wasn’t very much of a social person after being bullied for the stutter,” said Mia, who declined to provide her last name. “I think he just didn’t feel comfortable anymore at school.”
Childhood friend Stephen Garcia told the paper that Ramos “would get bullied hard, like bullied by a lot of people. Over social media, over gaming, over everything. He was the nicest kid, the most shiest kid. He just needed to break out of his shell.”
Garcia added that Ramos was subjected to “homophobic” slurs after posting a photo of himself wearing black eyeliner.
Ramos’ change in appearance indicated a deep-seated change in heart and mindset.
“He just started being a different person. He kept getting worse and worse, and I don’t even know,” Garcia said, adding that Ramos soon “began wearing all black, walked in large military boots and grew out his hair.”
According to the Daily Beast, a young woman who worked with Ramos at a fast-food restaurant noticed an aggressive streak: “He would be very rude towards the girls sometimes, and one of the cooks, threatening them by asking, ‘Do you know who I am?’ And he would also send inappropriate texts to the ladies.”
Nadia Reyes, another high school classmate, told the paper that Ramos had a troubled home — that he recently posted a story on Instagram noting how he yelled at his mom, whom he said was trying to kick him out of the home.
“He posted videos on Instagram where the cops were there and he’d call his mom a b—- and say she wanted to kick him out,” she told the paper. “He’d be screaming and talking to his mom really aggressively.”
Ramos’ neighbor Ruben Flores, 41, confirmed that Ramos had “a pretty rough life with his mom.”
He told the paper he tried to be a kind of father figure to the troubled teen after witnessing several “blowups” at home.
According to the Washington Post, Ramos’ mother used drugs, which contributed to the trouble at home.
Ramos moved to his grandmother’s home across town a few months ago. His grandmother owned the home Ramos’ mother was living in and, because of ongoing drug-related problems, his grandmother was in the process of evicting his mother.
Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother before driving to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with two assault rifles around 11:32 a.m. local time Tuesday. His grandmother survived the gunshot and was airlifted to a hospital.
Ramos cryptically messaged a stranger just hours before the incident: “I’m about to.”
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