Texas authorities said Friday that the gunman who killed 19 children and teachers inside an elementary school discussed his interest in buying a gun in private online conversations, but retracted earlier descriptions that he made public threats less than an hour before the attack.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday, a day after the shooting, that “the only information previously known was the gunman posted on Facebook about 30 minutes before he arrived at school.” Abbott’s claim raised questions about whether tech companies could provide advance warning.
But the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that the gunman made the threatening comments in a private message.
“I want to correct something that was said early in the investigation, which was he publicly posted on Facebook that he was going to kill, that he was going to shoot his grandmother, and second after that he was going, that he had shot her and the third he was going to shoot a school,” Stephen Macro said. “This did not happen.”
Facebook had already indicated on Wednesday that the threats were in direct text messages, not a public post.
Macro did not say who sent the messages to 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.
Macro also told reporters on Friday that Ramos asked his sister to help him buy a pistol in September 2021, but she “categorically refused.” He did not say how the authorities learned of this request.
Makrau shared information from four other messages of Ramos on social media.
In a February 28 conversation from four people, McCroe said “Ramos is the school’s sniper” was discussed.
In a March 1 conversation on four people, he said that Ramos had discussed purchasing a handgun.
On March 3, another person, in conversation with four people, said, “Word on the street is you’re buying a gun.”
On March 14, McCro said that Ramos had posted the phrase “10 more days” on a social media site. Another user asked “Are you going to shoot a school or something?” McCrowe said.
He said Ramos replied, “No, stop asking stupid questions and you’ll see.”
McCaw did not specify any other people in these chat groups.
The department did not immediately respond to Friday’s request for more details, including screenshots of the communications mentioned during the press conference.
Authorities said Ramos legally purchased two handguns shortly before the school attack: an AR rifle on May 17 and a second shotgun on May 20. He had turned 18 just days earlier, which allowed him to purchase a rifle under federal law.
Friday’s briefing came after authorities spent three days providing conflicting and often incomplete information about Yuvaldi’s law enforcement response.