Border Patrol Agents Were Among the First Responders to Texas Elementary School Shooting
One agent “shot and killed the gunman,” according to the Associated Press.
Border Patrol agents were among the first to arrive on the scene of a shooting at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday that has left at least 18 children and one teacher dead so far. One of the agents is reported to have “shot and killed the gunman.”
“U.S. Border Patrol Agents responded to a law enforcement request for assistance [for] an active shooter situation inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde,” tweeted Marsha (Catron) Espinosa, a Homeland Security Department spokesperson, on Tuesday night. “Upon entering the building, Agents & other law enforcement officers faced gun fire from the subject, who was barricaded inside.”
The agents and other officers risked their lives by putting “themselves between the shooter and children on the scene to draw the shooter’s attention away from potential victims and save lives,” she continued. “At least one Border Patrol Agent was wounded by the shooter during the exchange of gunfire. On-and-off duty Border Patrol Agents arrived on the scene to assist with transferring students safely to their families and providing medical support.”
About 80 border patrol agents responded, which included “members of a pair of elite units normally used for search and rescue and tactical operations,” according to The Washington Post. Uvalde is close to the U.S.-Mexico Border and Border Patrol agents often assist local law enforcement officials, said the report.
One Border Patrol agent near where the shooting started “rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it,” The Associated Press reported. “The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.”
Government Executive reached out to Customs and Border Protection for comment and they referred to a statement from CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus in which he expressed his profound condolences.
"CBP responded immediately to the incident with local law enforcement," said Magnus. "Many of our local CBP personnel live in Uvalde; they call this community home, and they work to protect their families, friends and neighbors every single day. We continue to coordinate closely with our federal, state and local partners in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy and will provide any further assistance needed.”
The Homeland Security Department tweeted late afternoon on Tuesday that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was briefed on the shooting. “[Customs and Border Protection] immediately responded to the scene to provide support, including medical aid,” said the tweet. “DHS is actively coordinating with federal, state and local partners, and will continue to provide the department’s full support.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents responded to the scene and the Justice Department is "providing our full support to our law enforcement partners on the ground in Texas and to the Uvalde community."
President Biden issued a proclamation to honor the victims in which he also ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff at the White House, public buildings and grounds, military posts, naval stations and vessels, U.S. embassies and consular offices until sunset on May 28.
“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?,” the president said during his address to the nation on Tuesday night. “I am sick and tired of it. We have to act, and don’t tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage.”
After the shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York last week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated the White House’s call for a confirmed leader of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has lacked a permanent director since 2015.
This story has been updated with comment from the Customs and Border Protection commissioner and attorney general.