At least 19 children and two adults have been reported dead after a teenage gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The shooting is the deadliest at a US primary school since the infamous Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed almost a decade ago.
On Tuesday, Uvalde Police Department asked the public to avoid the area around the school calling it an “active police scene”.
At 12.23pm, local time, parents were asked to pick up students at the Sgt. Willie Deleon Civic Center to which they were being transported.
Shortly after 1pm, police said shooter was in custody. In a press conference later on Tuesday, the city’s chief of police confirmed the gunman was dead and was believed to have carried out the “heinous crime” alone.
Uvalde CISD (Consolidated Independent School District) said the community had experienced a “terrible tragedy”.
A spokesperson said: “We must come together to console one another and respect the privacy of the families.
“Please keep all families in your prayers.
“School has been canceled for the rest of the school year for our students. This includes all extra-curricular activities for Wednesday and Thursday. The graduation ceremony will be addressed at a later time.
“Uvalde CISD staff are to report to their campuses tomorrow. School counselors will be available at all campuses to provide counseling support.
“Surrounding community counselors will be available at the Civic Center tomorrow to assist the Robb students, parents and faculty with counseling support. This is a tragic time in our district, we will come together to begin the healing process.
“This is a difficult time for everyone, however the gentle support all school community members give to each other during this time is the first step in healing. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your campus principal or your child’s school counselor.”
Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey said the spate of mass shootings across America is “an epidemic we can control” as he led tributes to the victims of the tragedy in his Texas hometown.
The actor said “whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better” in a statement online.
“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey said.
“Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.
“This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better.
“We must do better.
“Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before them have endured.
“And to those who dropped off their loved ones today not knowing it was goodbye, no words can comprehend or heal your loss, but if prayers can provide comfort, we will keep them coming.”