18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who shot dead 19 young children and two of their teachers at a Texas school on Tuesday, sent a series of creepy messages to an acquaintance on Instagram hours before the shooting said: ‘I got a lil secret I wanna tell u.’
Ramos was shot and killed by law enforcement at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, after he had murdered 21 people.
On May 12, he messaged a Los Angeles-based woman he knew on Instagram, tagging her in a photo of the guns.
‘You gonna repost my gun pics,’ @sal8dor_ direct messaged her.
‘what your guns gotta do with me,’ she replied on Friday.
‘Just wanted to tag you,’ he said back.
Then at 5:43am on Tuesday, @salv8dor_ messaged her and said: ‘I’m about to’.
The girl asked ‘about to what’ to which he answered: ‘I’ll tell you before 11.’
He said he’d text her in an hour and urged her to respond.
‘I got a lil secret I wanna tell u,’ he messaged with a smiley face emoji covering its mouth.
‘Be grateful I tagged you,’ he wrote.
She replied: ‘No it’s just scary,’ adding: ‘I barely know you and you tag me in a picture with some guns?’
His last message at 9:16am on Tuesday was ‘Ima air out’.
The shooting started around 11:32am.
The woman reacted with horror when she learnt what he had done.
‘He’s a stranger I know nothing about him he decided to tag me in his gun post,’ she wrote.
‘I’m so sorry for the victims and their families I really don’t know what to say.’
She then added: ‘The only reason I responded to him was because I was afraid of him I wish I stayed awake to at least try to convince him to not commit his crime. I didn’t know.’
When an Instagram user asked if she was his girlfriend, she replied: ‘I don’t know him and I don’t even live in Texas.’
Ramos, born in North Dakota but who lived in Uvalde, was a student at Uvalde High School before finding work at a Wendy’s.
He had bought the guns he used in the shooting legally when he turned 18.
Under a new Texan law passed in September, those aged 18-21 could buy guns if they had a protective order, because they were at risk of family violence, stalking, prostitution or sex trafficking.
The law also removed the requirement for a permit for a handgun. Rifles were already permitted in Texas without licenses.
Ramos’ social media was full of photos of his new guns, which he bought on his 18th birthday, state senator Roland Gutierrez said.
One video at the scene appears to show the suspected gunman, named by Governor Greg Abbott as Salvador Ramos, approach the school while what sounds like gunfire is going off in the background
Robb Elementary School, which has 600 students enrolled, is located in the city of Uvalde, hometown of Matthew McConaughey, 60 miles east of the Mexican border and 80 miles west of San Antonio.
A school friend of Ramos’s said that he sent him the photos of his guns too.
‘He would message me here and there, and four days ago he sent me a picture of the AR he was using … and a backpack full of 5.56 rounds, probably like seven mags,’ the friend told CNN.
‘I was like, ‘bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’
‘He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognise me,’ he added.
The friend said Ramos was mocked by others for the clothes he wore and his family’s financial situation, and eventually was seen less in class.
He largely dropped out, and took the job at Wendy’s, where co-workers remember him as quiet.
Adrian Mendes, evening manager at the Wendy’s, said Ramos ‘kept to himself mostly.’
‘He felt like the quiet type, the one who doesn’t say much. He didn’t really socialise with the other employees,’ Mendes told CNN.
‘He just worked, got paid, and came in to get his check.’
Mendes said that he did not know Ramos well – he was already employed when Mendes began in February – and didn’t see him most of the time because they were on different shifts.
Ramos worked from 11am to 4pm or 5pm, five days a week.