In the months before Tuesday’s school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead, gunman Salvador Ramos discussed weapons and school shootings multiple times on social media, according to news details released by police.
In an Instagram group chat in February, participants mentioned school shootings, Texas officials said during a news conference on Friday.
The following month, Ramos mentioned buying a gun on 1 March, and on 3 March. A fellow participant asked the 18-year-old if he had gotten his weapon yet.
“Just bought something rn,” Ramos responded.
According to police, Ramos legally bought two high-powered AR-15-style assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition shortly after turning 18 on 16 May.
Later that month, one of Ramos’s messages appeared to alarm his chatmates.
“10 more days,” Ramos wrote.
“Are you gonna shoot up the school or something?” they replied.
“No, stop asking dumb questions,” Ramos replied. “You’ll see.”
The Instagram messages are the latest in a growing digital trail of warnings the gunman left ahead of the attack, the second-worst school shooting in US history.
A 15-year-old girl from Germany has told New York Times that Ramos had text messaged her just before the shooting, saying “Ima go shoot up a elementary school rn.”
The teenager, who is only referred to as Cece, told the newspaper that she received the message immediately after another one at 11.21am, in which the suspect texted her, “I just shot my grandma in her head.”
She said that she met Ramos several weeks ago on the livestreaming app Yubo, and that he video-messaged her from a gun shop earlier in the month where he said he was buying an AR-15 rifle.
Cece says that she did not raise the alarm but when news of the massacre broke got a friend in the US to contact authorities on her behalf.
A classmate told CNN that Ramos also messaged him pictures of guns and ammunition.
“I was like, ‘Bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it’,” the student said. “He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognize me’.”
The teen also messaged an apparent stranger the morning of the shooting, tagging her in pictures of his weapons and saying he had a “secret” to tell her.
Despite the numerous indications that Ramos was fascinated with guns and assembling a cache of high-powered weapons, none of his conduct prior to the shooting violated Texas law.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Wednesday there was “no meaningful warning of his crime,” and that Ramos had no prior criminal or mental health record known to authorities.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.