Updated: May 27, 2022
Our country comes together to mourn the loss of 19 students and 2 adults who were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. As the prevalence of mass shootings in America continues to rise, we always seem to have the same questions:
Why does this happen in our country?
How does this keep happening?
How do we stop it from happening again?
The answers to these questions are not always easy to find, mass shootings are complex-issues, but we can begin to gain some clarity when we look into the lives of the people who are committing these crimes. In particular the young people who are 18, 19, 20, and 21 who become mass shooters.
Salvador Ramos, recently 18 years-old, was responsible for the deaths of 21 people at Robb Elementary School. As with most school shooters, the warning signs and red flags were there. As a society when we can identify the red flags and risk factors that were present, we can start to look at other young people in our lives who are exhibiting these traits and step up to support them before it is too late. Let’s take a look at what has been reported so far.
Salvador had a difficult childhood. His mother had used substances and his father was not present in his life, both risk factors for lack of parental support and supervision. Throughout his life he had a speech impediment that caused him to stutter and have a lisp, this led to another risk factor: bullying. The bullying didn’t stop there though, he was also bullied because his family was poor and he wore eyeliner that resulted in people using gay slurs towards him. According to a family member, Salvador was bullied by his peers over social media, gaming, and “everything.” Due to the bullying, he stopped showing up at school, now we are starting to see the red flags.
In recent years, people had noticed that Salvador’s behavior had worsened and that he started to lash out violently which is a common red flag for abusive behavior. He began to isolate himself, family members reported that he spent a lot of time alone in his room and didn’t talk much, showing the risk factor of poor communication and social skills. Salvador also showed the red flag of self-harm by repeatedly cutting his face with a knife. He started to bully others, both a red flag and risk factor, Salvador and his friend would drive around at night shooting at random people with a BB gun and egging cars. He was known for bringing boxing gloves to the park and trying to fight people, a red flag for aggressive behavior.
A few months before the shooting, Salvador would be rude towards the girls at work, threatening them by asking, ‘Do you know who I am?’ and sending inappropriate text messages, a red flag for sexual harassment. He had posted an Instagram story in which he screamed at his mother, who was trying to kick him out, showing the risk factor of poor communication, coping and conflict resolution skills along with another red flag of being abusive towards his mother.
Fast forward to the weeks and days leading up to the shooting he was showing many red flags for intent to harm. He posted pictures of two assault rifles on his Instagram story that he had purchased on his 18th birthday on May 16, 2022. Four days before the shooting, he sent a friend a picture of the AR he was using... and a backpack full of 5.56 rounds. Hours before the shooting, he had gotten into an argument with his grandmother, of whom he was living with at the time, and sent text messages to an acquaintance in Germany saying he had shot his grandmother and was going to shoot up a school. He entered Robb Elementary School wearing body armor with an assault rifle. This is when the unimaginable happened.
When we begin to educate ourselves on the red flags and risk factors that continue to show up in the young people who are committing mass shootings, we can know when to intervene. If a student is thinking about using violence to inflict harm on others, it is important for them to know that they won't be judged or shamed if they come forward seeking help. Oftentimes, the fear of being perceived as weak or the fear of getting in trouble are barriers to help youth at risk for using violence.
If you are thinking about using violence to inflict harm on others, it isn’t too late to reach out for support. For information reach out to 888-606-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our Trusted Adult Ally Prevention & Response Toolkit below. ⬇️