Nineteen young children and two adults have died in a shooting at a primary school in south Texas.
The 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in the city of Uvalde before he was killed by law enforcement, officials said.
Investigators say the suspect was armed with a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and high-capacity magazines.
The teenager is suspected of shooting his grandmother at the start of the rampage.
Local media report he may have been a high school student in the area.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief of Police Pete Arredondo said the shooting began at 11:32 local time on Tuesday, and that investigators believe the attacker “did act alone during this heinous crime”.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the shooter, whom he named Salvador Ramos, abandoned a vehicle before entering the school to “horrifically, incomprehensibly” open fire.
One of the adults killed was a teacher, who has been named in US media as Eva Mireles. Her page on the school district’s website said she has a daughter in college and loved running and hiking.
Nearly 500 pupils are enrolled in the predominantly Hispanic school around 85 miles (135km) west of the city of San Antonio.
Robb Elementary teaches second, third, and fourth-grade students, who range in age from seven to 10 years old.
Border Patrol is a federal agency that guards US ports of entry. Uvalde, which is fewer than 80 miles from the border with Mexico, is home to a Border Patrol station.
The attacker was wearing body armor as he carried out the attack. Another 18-year-old who is suspected of attacking a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on 14 May was also wearing body armor and carrying a semi-automatic rifle – both of which are commercially available in the US.
The Uvalde Memorial Hospital posted on Facebook earlier that 13 children had been taken to the hospital “via ambulances or buses”.
A 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl were in a critical condition at a hospital in San Antonio, University Health hospital officials say.
Just a few blocks from the Robb Elementary school, a small vigil was held for the victims and survivors of the attack.
Karla Bohman’s voice cracked as she told the group about a family friend whose young daughter, a student at the school, was among those still unaccounted for.
Cheryl Juhasz, a lifelong resident of Uvalde, quietly wept during the prayer.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES