Share this @internewscast.com
Texas school officials had been monitoring students’ social media prior to the deadly shooting in Uvalde Tuesday, it has been revealed – but still failed to pick up on concerning posts from the teenage gunman in the days leading up to the tragedy.
As an 18th birthday present to himself earlier this month, now-deceased suspect Salvador Romas bought two AR-style rifles and paraded them on social media – including in ominous messages sent hours before the killing started.
The teen’s photo-op also saw him share an image to his since-scrubbed Instagram account, of him cradling the magazine of a rifle on his lap.
The ensuing massacre – the deadliest at a US elementary school since the infamous 2012 Sandy Hook shooting – left 19 students aged under 11 and two adults at Uvalde Elementary dead. Romas also reportedly shot his 66-year-old grandmother before embarking on the killing spree.
Now, Uvalde School officials say they had been monitoring its students’ social media pages using an advanced AI-based service called Social Sentinel, designed to recognize signals of potential harm found in digital conversations.
The district revealed Monday it had been using the platform ‘to monitor all social media with a connection to Uvalde as a measure to identify any possible threats that might be made against students and or staff within the school district.’
Salvador Ramos, 18, from Uvalde, fatally shot 19 children and two adults in Tuesday’s shooting. Ramos shared photos of guns to social media in the days leading up to the massacre
This photo of two AR15-style rifles appeared on Romas’ Instagram account just three days before the massacre at Robb Elementary school. He then shared it in a tagged post hours before the shooting
The teen also shared an image to Instagram of him holding the magazine of a rifle. His account was taken down shortly after Governor Greg Abbott confirmed his name
According to its creators, the service – powered by advanced linguistics technology – scans and analyzes digital content to pick out and flag potential safety and security risks, as well as mental health and social and emotional concerns.
The software scans selected digital content – in this case, thousands of students’ social media accounts – and identifies language that fit those criteria.
The powerful technology is designed to then alerts leaders if a community member is showing signs of crisis, so they can intervene before an incident occurs.
The service also scans threatening images, along with its associated text, before determining whether it is something community leaders should look into.
However, in this particular instance, the technology fell short – failing to spot Romas’ objectively concerning posts and notify district officials.
It is not immediately clear why the technology failed. DailyMail.com reached out to Social Sentinel and Uvalde district staffers for comment on the software’s apparent failure Wednesday morning, but did not immediately hear back.
Students and parents also failed to spot the post from the troubled student, who was described as a bullied loner who slowly dropped out of school due to teasing about his lisp, habit of wearing eyeliner, clothes and his family’s poverty
Uvalde district policy encourages ‘[s]tudents, parents, staff, and community members are encouraged to share information that is deemed troubling’ with the district using a reporting system’ so that it can ‘take appropriate action.’
Those who knew Ramos or his relatives say he was a ‘nice’ but ‘quiet’ boy who grew increasingly violent as he became older, amid relentless bullying both in school and online.
Santos Valdez told the Washington Post that he used to be friends with Ramos and played online shooter games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty with him, until the pair stopped talking as Ramos’s behaviour ‘deteriorated.’
Valdez said Ramos had showed up to the park one time with cuts all over his face, initially claiming he was scratched by a cat before admitting that he did it to himself with a knife.
Stephen Garcia, who considered himself Ramos’s best friend in eighth grade, said he was ‘bullied by a lot of people’ including for over a photo of himself wearing eyeliner which led to ‘gay’ taunts. Garcia said Ramos dropped out of school when he moved away to another part of the state, and the two had lost touch.
Others confirmed that Ramos had stopped attending classes, and did not intend to take part in graduation this summer. Instead, he got a job at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
A colleague there described Ramos has having an aggressive streak. She told the Daily Beast he walked around with a pair of boxing gloves at the park, asking people to fight him and filming it. He also menaced co-workers, asking one of the cooks: ‘Do you know who I am?’
‘He would be very rude towards the girls sometimes… and he would also send inappropriate texts to the ladies,’ the former colleague said, asking for her name not to be used.
As an 18th birthday present to himself earlier this month, Ramos bought two AR-style rifles and paraded them on social media, including in ominous messages sent hours before the killing started.
A teenage acquaintance of Ramos, who lives in Los Angeles and claims to barely know him, posted screenshots of messages he sent her early Tuesday after tagging her in a picture of his rifles. In them, he said he wanted to share a ‘lil secret’ and urged her to respond to him. The conversation ended before Ramos revealed his secret.
People waiting for news of their loved ones following a mass shooting in Texas embrace outside a civic center in the city
Two women weep as they embrace one-another following a mass shooting at a Texas school which killed at least 19 children
A woman cries while speaking on the phone outside the Ssgt Willie de Leon Civic Center, where students had been transported from Robb Elementary School to be picked up following the shooting
Women embrace one-another as they mourn outside a civic center in the city of Uvalde, southern Texas, following a mass shooting at an elementary school
Crowds of people comfort one-another following a mass shooting at a school in the city of Uvalde, southern Texas
Law enforcement are seen near the crime scene on Tuesday afternoon after the mass murder at the school
Ramos’s home in Uvalde is seen on Tuesday as police try to fathom a motive for the shooting
Ruben Flores, who knew Ramos’s family, said he had an unstable home life and got into blow-up fights with his mother, who he grew up with alongside two sisters in a house around a five minute drive from Robb Elementary.
Police had been called to the home on more than one occasion, Flores added.
She said Ramos had moved in with his grandmother ‘a few months ago’. Flores said the grandmother was in the process of evicting Ramos’s mother from her house, which the elderly lady owned.
So far, police have confirmed that 19 children and three adults, including a 44-year-old teacher, were killed in Tuesday’s massacre. Police sources told KTRK they expect the death toll to rise.
One of the rifles that Ramos legally purchased was found alongside his body in the school, police sources told Click2Houston, while another was found in a truck which he crashed close by.
Meanwhile, the families of missing students have taken to social media sharing photos of the children in hopes of tracking them down.
Amerie Jo Garza (right) was confirmed dead by her father Angel Garza (left), who said: ‘My little love is now flying high with the angels above’
Eliahana ‘Elijah Cruz’ Torres, 10, was also identified among the deceased. The fourth grader, didn’t want to go to school on Tuesday, her grandfather said – but her family told her she had to
Steven Garcia and Jennifer Lugo confirmed their daughter, Ellie, was killed in Tuesday’s massacre after she had been missing for several hours