Watch: Texas school shooting death toll rises to 19 children
Nineteen children and two adults, including one teacher, were killed on Tuesday after a teenage gunman opened fire in a primary school in rural Texas.
The 18-year-old shooter, Salvador Ramos, entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 85 miles west of San Antonio, on Tuesday morning with a handgun and a rifle.
“He shot and killed horrifically, incomprehensibly,” Greg Abbott, Texas’ governor, said.
CNN reported on Tuesday that before entering the school the shooter also shot and injured his grandmother.
Photographs showed a San Antonio Fire Department Mass Casualty ambulance arriving at a nearby hospital in the early afternoon. The students were brought to two local hospitals for treatment, but were reported to be dead on arrival.
The shooter engaged in a firefight with Texas border patrol officers before running into the school and barricading himself inside.
The Uvalde Police Department said the suspect was killed by responding officers just after 1pm. He was reportedly a student at a nearby high school.
Speaking from the White House, an emotional and angry Joe Biden said: “I hoped when I became president I would not have to do this, again.”
“As a nation, we have to ask, ‘When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?’”
The Uvalde primary school, which has 600 students enrolled, is located 60 miles east of the Mexican border.
Uvalde is a town of some 16,000 mostly Hispanic and Mexican residents with a low crime rate.
The shooting - the third deadliest school massacre in US history - came amid a rise in gun violence in the US.
Mr Biden on Tuesday night ordered all flags at federal buildings to fly at half-mast.
The US saw nearly 20,000 firearms homicides in 2020. The number increased by more than 50 per cent from 2020 to 2021, according to a recent FBI report.
The report, titled "Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2021," says there were 61 mass shooting incidents” in the US in 2021, representing a nearly 100 per cent rise in such attacks from 2017, which saw 31.
Over the past five years, active shooter incidents have steadily increased, with the most recent 10 days ago in Buffalo, New York, where a white gunman opened fire on black supermarket shoppers in a racially motivated attack.
Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings and a nationwide wave of gun violence, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress.
In response to the shooting, Ken Paxton, Texas' attorney-general, claimed that arming teachers could keep children safe in the future.
Mr Paxton, a Republican, told conservative news network Newsmax that "having potentially teachers and other administrators be armed" could prevent future attacks.
He said: "First responders typically can't get there in time to prevent a shooting. It's just not possible unless you have a police officer on every campus.
"I think you're going to have to do more at the school."
American actor Matthew McConaughey said the country's spate of mass shootings is "an epidemic we can control" as he led tributes to the victims of the atrocity in his Texas hometown.
Watch: Matthew McConaughey has urged Americans to 'take a longer and deeper look in the mirror' after the Uvalde shooting
"As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas," he said in a statement online.
"Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.
"This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better.
"We must do better."
Teacher identified as shooting victim
Fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles on Tuesday went to a job she loved, teaching a class in the small Texas town of Uvalde, but she never came home.
Ms Mireles, who was trained in bilingual and special education, worked at Robb Elementary School, where the teenager killed them all in a hail of gunfire before being killed himself by police officers.
Her cousin, Cristina Arizmendi Mireles, on Facebook said Ms Mireless taught pupils aged around nine or 10 years old in her fourth grade class.
"My beautiful cousin! Such a devastating day for us all! My heart is shattered into a million pieces," Arizmendi Mireles said.
A short biography posted on the school district's website stated the teacher had a "supportive, fun, and loving family" comprised of her husband, her college graduate daughter and "three furry friends".
"I love running, hiking, and now you just might see me riding a bike," Ms Mireles wrote on the website.
Her husband, Ruben Ruiz, is a police officer at the school district's police force, the agency investigating the massacre.
Her devastated aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, grieved for her niece in a Facebook post, asking for prayers for her family and the entire town of Uvalde.
"I'm furious that these shootings continue. These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially loved ones," Ms Martinez Delgado said in a statement.
"All we can do is pray hard for our country, state, schools, and especially the families of all."
There were two days left in the school year when Tuesday's massacre unfolded.
The school district cancelled classes for the remainder of the school year and has established grief counseling for the survivors.