Texas officials said Friday that the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school discussed his interest in buying a gun in private online conversations, but backtracked from earlier details that he was one of the victims of the attack. There was a public threat less than an hour ago.
A day after the shooting, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday, “The only information that was previously known was posted by the gunman. Facebook About 30 minutes before reaching school. Abbott’s claim raised questions about whether technology companies could have given advance warnings.
But on Friday the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the gunman made the threatening remarks in a private message.
“I want to correct something that the investigation said, that he posted publicly on Facebook that he was going to kill, that he was going to shoot his grandmother and another that he was going after , that he had shot her and that third he was going to have a school shooting,” said Steven McCraw. “It didn’t happen.”
Facebook had already noted on Wednesday that the threats were in direct text messages and not in public posts.
McCraw did not say to whom 18-year-old Salvador Ramos had sent the message.
McCraw also told reporters on Friday that Ramos asked his sister to help him buy the gun in September 2021, but she “categorically declined.” He did not say how the authorities came to know about that request.
McCraw shared information from four more social media private messages from Ramos.
In a four-person chat on February 28, McCraw stated that “Ramos being a school shooter” was discussed.
In a four-person chat on March 1, he said Ramos discussed buying a gun.
In a four-person chat on March 3, another person said “word on the street is you are buying a gun.” McCraw said Ramos replied, “Just bought some.”
On March 14, McCraw said that Ramos shared the words “10 more days” in a social media post. Another user asked, “Are you going to shoot a school or something?” McCraw said.
He said Ramos replied, “No and stop asking dumb questions and you’ll see.”
McCraw did not identify anyone else involved in those chat groups.
The department did not immediately respond to a request Friday for more details, including screenshots of communications mentioned during the news conference.
Officials have said Ramos had legally purchased two guns shortly before the school attack: an AR-style rifle on May 17 and another on May 20. He had just turned 18 a few days earlier, allowing him to purchase a rifle under federal law.
Friday’s briefing came after officials spent three days providing often conflicting and incomplete information about the law enforcement response to Uvalde.