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Head of 'San Antonio Express-News' on what we know about the Uvalde shooting

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Fourteen children and one teacher are dead after a gunman opened fire in a Texas elementary school. The gunman is also dead. Authorities believe the 18-year-old shooter was acting alone.

I'm joined now by Marc Duvoisin, the editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Express-News. And, Marc, I'm sorry we have to talk about this, especially so soon after what happened in Buffalo, N.Y. Thanks for making time for us.

MARC DUVOISIN: Thanks, Sacha.

PFEIFFER: Would you briefly walk us through what we know about this incident?

DUVOISIN: Well, Sacha, we've been following it all afternoon. The first reports came in around 1:00 that the involved schools in Uvalde had been locked down because of a shooter situation. And then a little bit later, that was limited to just one school, an elementary - Uvalde Elementary School. And then we began to get reports of students arriving at the emergency room at Uvalde Memorial Hospital. Parents were told to report to the cafeteria and await further instructions. And then we received reports that the University Hospital in San Antonio, which is almost 90 miles east of Uvalde, was also receiving patients - no information available about their condition.

And that was the state of information for a couple of hours until about a half hour ago or so. Governor Abbott - Greg Abbott of Texas - held a news conference and revealed the full scope of it - that 14 students and one teacher had been killed, 15 including the gunman.

PFEIFFER: We mentioned that the gunman is believed to be 18, believed to have been acting alone, as you just said, is now dead. Is anything else known about this person?

DUVOISIN: Very little known. There's a report that he was a student at Uvalde High School. But other than that, there's - Sacha, there's a briefing happening right now in Uvalde, where we have a reporter. So this information is now emerging in real time. The police and school officials are holding a briefing as we speak in the city.

PFEIFFER: Marc, there are also reports of several injuries in addition to those fatalities. Can you tell us anything about the injuries?

DUVOISIN: I don't really know much about the injuries. The initial reports were that two people had died and 14 were injured. And that was the state of the information for a couple of hours. And it was really only at Governor Greg Abbott's news conference that the fatality toll of 14 became known. And we don't have any specific information about injuries, how many or their severity.

PFEIFFER: This was an elementary school. What can you tell us about this particular school?

DUVOISIN: It's in a small town that is about an hour and a half drive west of San Antonio, best-known in some circles as the hometown of Matthew McConaughey. It's out deep in the hill country of Texas. The grades where this happened, we're told, were the second through fourth grade section of the school. It's obviously very tragic for children that age to be exposed to something like this.

It's a part of the outskirts of San Antonio that has seen a lot of population growth in the last couple of years. A lot of people moving in from other states are drawn to the kind of scenic beauty and the small-town feel of places like Uvalde and hardly expecting to confront something like this at their local school.

PFEIFFER: Is it a small enough town that it's hard to imagine not everyone won't be affected in some way or likely know some of these people who were injured or hurt?

DUVOISIN: Sacha, just following it on social media, which I've been doing for most of today, I could see people - local real estate agents or the head of the refrigerator repair company - sharing information about, you know, a brother or relative who worked at the school or who worked at the hospital. It's a place where, you know, interconnections like that are thick. And there was enormous anxiety and prayers being shared on social media as people who knew each other or had connections were coming together on the Facebook page of the school and the police department to try to find information and, you know, share condolences and commiserate.

PFEIFFER: And, Marc, what are Texas officials saying so far? How are they responding?

DUVOISIN: That's really the shock at this point. We don't really know much other than that the San Antonio Police Department has sent, you know, many kinds of resources - SWAT team and investigators - to help. I believe I saw reports that the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was on the scene. Texas state troopers are being made available to assist in the investigation. But it looks as if it is, from what the governor said, a single shooter believed to have been acting alone.

PFEIFFER: That's Marc Duvoisin, editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Express-News. Marc, thank you for these details.

DUVOISIN: You're welcome - happy to do it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Sacha Pfeiffer
Sacha Pfeiffer is a correspondent for NPR's Investigations team and an occasional guest host for some of NPR's national shows.
Courtney Dorning
Courtney Dorning has been a Senior Editor for NPR's All Things Considered since November 2018. In that role, she's the lead editor for the daily show. Dorning is responsible for newsmaker interviews, lead news segments and the small, quirky features that are a hallmark of the network's flagship afternoon magazine program.