The 18-year-old shooter who killed 21 people in Texas last week had a history of violence and “loved” abusing animals, his classmates from Uvalde High School have claimed.
Salvador Ramos was a bully who provoked other people in order to pick fights and was seen hurting dogs, they alleged, countering the family’s claim that he was bullied for stuttering.
“He would go to the park and try to pick on people and he loved hurting animals,” classmate Jaime Arellano told the Daily Beast.
Others alleged that Ramos boasted about torturing animals and aired his acts of animal abuse on the French live streaming platform Yubo.
A Yubo user told ABC News that Ramos would “put cats in plastic bags, suspend them inside, throw them at the ground and throw them at people’s houses”. They claimed that Ramos would display these videos while laughing and boasting about how he and his friends “did it all the time”.
Ramos had also allegedly threatened women with sexual violence.
He threatened to rape and murder 19-year-old Amanda Robbins after she rejected his sexual advances, according to CNN. Ms Robbins said she witnessed Ramos threaten other girls with similar “acts of sexual assault and violence”.
Ramos’s Yubo account was reported by several people due to its graphic content and lewd threats, but was allowed back on the platform following a temporary ban.
Hannah, 18, told the broadcaster that she had reported Ramos' account after he threatened to shoot up her school, and rape and kill her and her mother during a live stream session.
On 24 May, Ramos shot his grandmother in the face, then drove to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where he killed 19 children and two adults with his legally-bought assault rifle. He was killed by Border Patrol agents, but not before responding police ignored the cries of desperate parents asking them to enter the school.
Before unleashing the carnage, he sent three messages on Facebook. The first was: “I’m going to shoot my grandmother.” The second message was “I shot my grandmother.”
“I’m going to shoot an elementary school” was his final message before the attack.
The shooter’s friends and family had earlier said that Ramos was bullied, cut his own face, fired a BB gun at random people and egged cars in the years leading up to the deadly attack.
He allegedly had a difficult home life, was bullied over a childhood speech impediment, and lashed out violently towards friends, strangers, and his mother.
Santos Valdez Jr, 18, told The Washington Post that he had known Ramos since their early days of elementary school, adding that they were friends until Ramos’s behaviour began to grow worse.
Mr Valdez described an encounter when Ramos arrived at a park where they used to play basketball with cuts all over his face, initially saying he had been scratched by a cat.
“Then he told me the truth, that he’d cut up his face with knives over and over and over,” Mr Valdez said. “I was like, ‘You’re crazy, bro, why would you do that?’”
Ramos said he had done it for fun, Mr Valdez said.
Adriana Reyes, Ramos’s mother, said her son was not a “monster,” but could be aggressive. “I had an uneasy feeling sometimes, like ‘what are you up to’. He can be aggressive... If he really got mad,” she said.
His father, also named Salvador Ramos, apologised to the town of Uvalde for his son’s act, but added: “I don’t want them calling him a monster... they don’t know nothing, man. They don’t know anything he was going through.”