By now, you have likely seen the faces of the 19 children and two teachers who were fatally shot in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday (May 24). The 18-year-old suspected gunman, Salvador Ramos, who was killed at the crime scene, is said to have shot his grandmother ahead of arriving at Robb Elementary and carrying out what is now the second-deadliest school shooting in American history. In addition to these fatalities, the elder and 17 others were wounded by Ramos.
Though each of the victims has been identified, there are several viral theories about who the Texas shooter was. For example, The New York Times published, “Hours after the attack on Tuesday, far-right figures spread misinformation claiming that the shooting was a ‘false flag’ attack. Among their unfounded claims were that the shooting had been orchestrated to draw local law enforcement away from the border, allowing criminals and drugs to cross into the United States.” Other perspectives, including those of public figures, media personnel and politicians, began to circulate online in response.
Former President Barack Obama reacted to the massacre by tweeting, “Nearly ten years after Sandy Hook—and ten days after Buffalo—our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies.” The Democratic leader’s sentiments were followed by words from Republican congress members like Paul Gosar. A representative from Arizona’s fourth congressional district, Gosar used Twitter to write, “We know already fool. It’s a transsexual leftist illegal alien named Salvatore Ramos. It’s apparently your kind of trash.”
Gosar’s thoughts arrived above the Twitter user @RestoringFreed1’s post, “Anyone else guess that this is another copycat groyper Terrorist in #Texas today?” Both tweets have since been deleted. Gosar’s social media claims observed a three-month-old Reddit photo reshared on the imageboard website 4chan, on which Ramos was said to be a transgender woman. A collection of derogatory comments and speculations trailed from this LGBTQ+ theory.
Claim: Was the Texas school shooter known to be a cross-dresser or transgender?
The photographed transwoman in question lives in Georgia, not Texas. Her name is Sam and though she has no affiliation with the elementary shooting, she is being harassed online with the spread of this misinformation. As per an NBC News report, “A photo of Sam was posted to 4chan on Tuesday afternoon, in a post that began with ‘here’s the shooter’s reddit’ before linking to her Reddit account and posting a transphobic slur.” Additionally, in spite of viral speculation, including the far-right commentator Candace Owens’, transwomen are not cross-dressing.
Upon 21 people being assassinated by Ramos, Owens took to Twitter to ask, “What’s drives an 18 year old to murder innocent children? I don’t know. But judging by the photos of him cross-dressing, we can assume there were plenty of signs that he was mentally disturbed and abused by adults in his life. Societal cowardice ignored those plenty of signs.” Despite her typographical errors and baseless assertions, it may be necessary to note that a person’s mental health is not medically contingent upon their sex.
And for those unclear, transgender people’s gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. By Merriam-Webster’s definition, cross-dressing is “the wearing of clothes designed for the opposite sex.” The woman seen holding a transgender pride flag in the mentioned image has specified her gender identity. Therefore, it is valid. Further, the Trans Safety Network (TSN), a research collective that monitors organized harm efforts and threats targeting the trans community, specified another culprit of untruthfulness: Alex Jones.
The alt-right radio show host and conspiracy theorist is known for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left six faculty members and twenty children dead, “a hoax.” According to TSN, “… photos of at least 2 trans people were being claimed to be the shooter on the Alex Jones show live stream, and continued to spread through social media … [Jones] is currently avoiding paying compensation to the families of the Sandy Hook massacre victims for disinformation about the shooting.” For context, on the morning of the Texas shooting, the Connecticut-based newspaper News-Times confirmed, “A federal judge cleared the way for Sandy Hook families to have the defamation lawsuit they won against Alex Jones released from bankruptcy protection …”
As families and the collective mourn the Texas tragedy, Sara Aniano, an extremism researcher, concentrates on the rhetoric of the far-right. The specialist connected with NPR and advised, “This is the worst-case scenario. Without a manifesto and a known motive, the speculation [will] get worse and worse … it also provides a really fertile ground for more conspiracy theories to … accumulate.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing criticism for how easy it was for the gunman and others to access assault rifles legally. This feedback for the GOP representative comes in tandem with opposition to his support of the bill effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Some online views allude to the politician being “pro-life” while proving himself ill-equipped to protect Texas youth two days before the elementary school’s release for summer vacation. When subsequently confronted about gun control legislation during a recent press conference, Abbott said, “I hate to say this, but there are more people shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas … Chicago and LA and New York disprove that [gun control legislation is effective] … Our job is to come up with real solutions.” His assessment of underserved cities omitted that “Illinois suffered 1,745 gun deaths in 2020 compared to [the] 4,164 in Texas,” published CNN from the “Firearm Mortality by State” CDC study.
No matter your position on school safety, the public can authenticate that the Texas shooter opened fire on innocent children and educators. Students Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, Alithia Ramirez, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Eliahana Cruz Torres, Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, Jackie Cazares, Jailah Nicole Silguero, Jayce Luevanos, Jose Flores, Layla Salazar, Makenna Lee Elrod, Maite Rodriguez, Miranda Mathis, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres, Tess Marie Mata, Uziyah Garcia, and Xavier Lopez were confirmed as victims by The Los Angeles Times. Their teachers, Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, are believed to have died as heroes attempting to protect their students.
The latter’s husband passed in the process of grieving. Ernie Zuniga, a news anchor at KABB FOX San Antonio, tweeted: “Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers shot and killed in Uvalde, TX on Tuesday, has reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack. Joe and Irma were high school sweethearts and married 24 years. They leave behind four children.” The Garcia family’s story represents one of many. Surviving students like Miah Cerrillo played dead by wiping her peer’s blood on herself. No one at Robb Elementary needed to experience an active shooter or die.
The REVOLT team sends its deepest condolences to those affected by this tragedy.