Did the third-grade cousin of Uvalde, Texas, school shooter Salvador Ramos unknowingly provide the killer with information that he used to kill 21 innocent people?
The boy’s mother says yes.
According to a report in Friday’s U.K. Daily Mail, Shelby Celeste Salazar — whose son is a student at Robb Elementary School — said Ramos had a conversation with her child about the details of the school just a week before the mass murder.
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The 28-year-old Salazar said that Ramos had been living with them and his grandmother after being kicked out of his mother’s house.
During the conversation, Ramos asked Salazar’s son about what school he went to and when their lunch time was, she said.
“At the time I didn’t think anything of it, they had a good relationship. They are second cousins,” the mother of four told the Daily Mail.
One week later, Ramos would shoot his grandmother in the face, drive to Robb Elementary School and proceed to kill 19 students and two teachers.
“He knew my baby went to school there. I can’t grasp this. That’s why I’m at a loss for words. I saw the news with text messages and started freaking out,” she said.
Do you think there were enough red flags that this shooting could have been prevented?
Ramos’ cousin was unharmed, however; he was in class when the shooting began, but his room wasn’t targeted.
It’s unclear whether Ramos intentionally avoided his cousin’s classroom.
“No one knows why he did what he did. That’s the truth,” Salazar said. “No one can say they knew what he was thinking or how he felt, or even why he felt he need to shoot our grandmother and all those innocent babies.”
“I don’t know why he would have targeted an elementary school,” she added. “I mean, he didn’t know how to drive, so I really do not know. I’m at a total loss for words.”
Ramos’ 66-year-old grandmother is recovering at a hospital in San Antonio, roughly 80 miles east of Uvalde.
Of course, a conversation about Robb Elementary School with his third-grade cousin might not necessarily have raised red flags about Ramos or his intentions.
However, reports indicate there were other warning signs regarding the 18-year-old shooter, who was killed by a Border Patrol tactical team.
Ramos would intimidate fellow employees at the Wendy’s he worked at and had been caught on video trying to fight people with boxing gloves at a local park, one former employee told The Daily Beast.
His home life was also dysfunctional, something he documented on social media. Fights between him and his mother often ended in the police being called, a neighbor said.
“He posted videos on his Instagram where the cops were there and he’d call his mom a b**** and say she wanted to kick him out,” one of his former classmates said. “He’d be screaming and talking to his mom really aggressively.”
Others reported he would cut his face for fun and intimidate random strangers with a BB gun.
More ominously, one of his former classmates told CNN Ramos sent him texts with pictures of guns and ammunition in the days leading up to the attack.
“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 said.
“I was like, ‘Bro, why do you have this?’ and he was like, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” he added. “He proceeded to text me, ‘I look very different now. You wouldn’t recognize me.’”
These red flags are easy to recognize post facto, obviously. They always are.
The question is, did they add up to a portrait of a shooter who could have been stopped before he started killing? Those details are going to be more apparent in the days and weeks to come.