Lax laws allowed Uvalde gunman to legally buy AR rifles after his 18th birthday — days before attack

Law enforcement provided more details on the shooting and refuted misinformation about the attack

Published May 25, 2022 1:30PM (EDT)

State troopers stand outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)
State troopers stand outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune.

The gunman in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history bought two AR-style rifles legally just after his 18th birthday — days before his assault on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

[Students, teachers in Uvalde elementary school shooting were in one classroom, law enforcement says]

He legally purchased two AR platform rifles from a federally licensed gun store on two days: May 17 — just a day after his birthday — and May 20, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said, according to a briefing that state Sen. John Whitmire, chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, received from state authorities late Tuesday. The gunman bought 375 rounds of 5.56-caliber ammunition on May 18.

In Texas, you must be at least 18 years old to buy a rifle, and the state does not require a license to openly carry one in public.

The gunman reportedly barricaded himself in a classroom Tuesday afternoon after allegedly shooting and critically wounding his grandmother. He crashed his truck near the school, and once inside, he shot and killed 19 children and two adults and wounded several more.

He brought only one of the rifles with him into the elementary school, one manufactured by the Georgia-based arms manufacturer Daniel Defense, according to the briefing, details of which Whitmire shared with The Texas Tribune. The other was left in the truck he crashed nearby.

Some initial reports stated that the Uvalde Police Department was pursuing the suspect before he crashed and entered the school. However, authorities say that wasn't true, and the first calls the police department received were from someone reporting the crash and seeing a man with a gun exit the vehicle.

According to the briefing, the shooter dropped a backpack with several magazines full of ammunition near the entrance of the school. Authorities counted at least seven of what appeared to be 30-round magazines, but it won't be known whether they were emptied or still contained bullets until the crime scene is processed.

It was reported earlier that the suspect was wearing body armor, but it appears he was wearing a plate carrier vest with no ballistic armor inside, authorities said.

The Texas Rangers were still in the process of attempting to identify victims late Tuesday. Crime scene processing was planned to begin Wednesday.

The Texas Rangers found that the grandmother appeared to work at the elementary school until 2020, with more recent records showing she worked at a local coffee shop. She was still alive as of Tuesday night.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent sustained a grazing gunshot wound but has since been released from the hospital, according to the briefing.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

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By Reese Oxner

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