The tragedy has knocked on the doors of Uvalde, in the State of Texas. On Tuesday night, the name of Salvador Ramos, a young man of 18 years, was on the lips of all the inhabitants of this majority Latino community halfway between the city of San Antonio and the Mexican border. Two neighbors spoke of Ramos in front of Robb Elementary School, where he killed 19 children and two teachers before being gunned down by police in the worst school shooting in a decade. “He was quiet. And they say that he did like to play those shooting video games, Call of Duty Y Modern Warfare”, Eric told this newspaper (he does not want to reveal his last name), whose eldest son studies at the same institute as Ramos.
Eric, 44, dressed in a camouflage T-shirt and cap, had a gun on his waistband. Guns are popular in Texas, a state that allows them to be carried without a special permit. And in this town, specifically pistols and rifles, because there are many hunting enthusiasts. According to this neighbor, Salvador Ramos was “good people”, but he was a victim of bullying in high school. “My son tells me he knows a boy who liked to hit him,” he says.
Lt. Christopher Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, has assured the press that Ramos entered the school wearing “body armor.” Witnesses affirm that he was armed with an automatic rifle and a pistol. He barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom, where an end-of-year ceremony and graduation ceremony had taken place minutes earlier. The school had 535 students enrolled in the school year that ended in 2021. Many of the shooting victims were 10 years old.
Ramos lived with his two maternal grandparents, Rolando Reyes and Celia Martínez, in a one-story house on Diaz Street, a few meters from the school. The assailant’s mother, Adriana Martínez, did not live with them, but in another part of town. “Her mother of hers was in bad steps,” one of the neighbors of that street said on Tuesday night. That is why the grandparents took care of Salvador, whose father was not present in his life. The area is populated by first or second generation Americans, children of Mexican immigrants. Almost everyone speaks Spanish. According to Roland Gutierrez, a local senator who had access to police reports, Ramos was born in North Dakota.
According to the authorities’ account, Ramos argued with his grandmother before committing the crime. The young man had uploaded to social networks photographs of the weapons that he had bought legally in a local store. The grandmother, according to some neighbors, knew of her grandson’s plans and wanted to prevent her from carrying them out. To settle the argument, Ramos shot his 66-year-old grandmother, who was taken to a San Antonio hospital and is in critical condition. A backpack full of ammunition was left lying in the patio of the house.
Ramos had some jobs in town. Journalists who have come to Uvalde after the massacre have visited Wendy’s, the hamburger and fast-food restaurant where he worked for a year and left last month. What they have found so far is the portrait of the shy young man without many friends who had difficulties establishing social relationships. “A lot of my employees talk to each other and are friendly. He wasn’t like that. I don’t think anyone knew him,” the network’s night coordinator told New York Times.
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The boy also did sporadic jobs with his grandfather Rolando, who was dedicated to the installation of air conditioners and other maintenance tasks. In recent months, the family had mourned several upcoming deaths. Rolando had lost his mother and his brother, Salvador’s great-uncle.
“I’m very sorry for my friend Rolando,” Adolfo Cruz, 69, who works installing air conditioners, said Tuesday night. Originally from Uvalde, he says he has known the murderer’s family for more than 60 years. “He is a firm guy,” he describes about his grandfather, a version that is shared by the residents of Diaz Street. Adolfo’s granddaughter, Elija Cruz Torres, 10, is among the fatalities left by Salvador Ramos’ anger in a place where everyone knows each other. “I don’t blame my friend at all. I don’t hold a grudge against him, ”she indicated.
What does bother Cruz is the role of the police. “Where were they?” she asks herself. According to him, the police chief, Daniel Rodríguez, had promised special surveillance in the school district. In May 2018, the authorities of this town arrested two adolescents, ages 13 and 14, students from the Morales Institute, in that town, who had planned to carry out a shooting at their school. The investigation revealed that the minors identified themselves with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers. Years later, a massacre has occurred inside the classrooms. The name of Salvador Ramos is added to a growing list of perpetrators that once added an entire community to grief.
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