Texas authorities said on Friday the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school mentioned his interest in buying a gun in private conversations online, but backed away from earlier descriptions that he had made public threats less than an hour before the attack.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday, a day after the shooting, that “the only known advance information was posted by the shooter on Facebook about 30 minutes before he reached the school.” Abbott’s claim sparked questions about whether the tech companies could have provided advance warning.
But on Friday, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the shooter made threatening comments in a private message.
“I want to correct something that was said at the start of the investigation, that he publicly posted on Facebook that he was going to kill, that he was going to shoot his grandmother and second after that he was going, that ‘he had shot her and that third, he was going to shoot a school,’ Steven McCraw said. ‘That didn’t happen.’
Facebook had already noted on Wednesday that the threats were in direct text messages, not a public post.
McCraw did not say who Salvador Ramos, 18, sent the messages to.
McCraw also told reporters on Friday that Ramos asked his sister to help him buy a gun in September 2021, but she “adamantly refused.” He did not specify how the authorities learned of this request.
McCraw shared information from four other private messages from Ramos on social media.
In a four-person conversation on February 28, McCraw said “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’re buying a gun.” McCraw said Ramos replied, “I just bought something.”
On March 14, McCraw said 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 stupid questions and you’ll see.”
McCraw did not identify any of the other people included in those chat groups.
On Friday, the department did not immediately respond to a request for more details, including screenshots of communications discussed at the press conference.
Authorities said Ramos legally purchased two weapons shortly before the school attack: an AR-type rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had turned 18 a few days earlier, which allowed him to purchase a gun under federal law.
Friday’s briefing came after authorities spent three days providing often conflicting and incomplete information about law enforcement’s response to Uvalde.
For more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting, go to https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting