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Texas gunman left home after fight with mom about Wi-Fi, mother's boyfriend says

NBC News logo NBC News 5/25/2022 Deon J. Hampton and Safia Samee Ali

UVALDE, Texas — The man who opened fire in a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, massacring 19 children and two adults, was a loner who kept to himself and avoided any kind of conversation, according to the boyfriend of the gunman’s mother.

The shooter, identified by multiple law enforcement sources as Salvador Rolando Ramos, indiscriminately opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 80 miles from San Antonio. He was killed by an off-duty agent with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Tactical Unit and two law enforcement officers, law enforcement sources said.

Juan Alvarez, 62, who has been in a relationship with Ramos’ mother for about a year and lives with her, said Ramos had a tumultuous relationship with his mother that often included fights. 

Alvarez said Ramos left his mother’s home two months ago to live with his grandmother after he got into an intense argument with his mother after he disconnected the Wi-Fi. 

Juan Alvarez, 62, at the home he shares with Ramos’ mother in Uvalde, Texas. (Deon Hampton / NBC News) © Deon Hampton Juan Alvarez, 62, at the home he shares with Ramos’ mother in Uvalde, Texas. (Deon Hampton / NBC News)

He added that Ramos would shut down and leave whenever he tried to initiate a conversation.

“He was kind of a weird one. I never got along with him. I never socialized with him. He doesn’t talk to nobody,” he said. “When you try to talk to him he’d just sit there and walk away.”

Alvarez said Ramos had been acting aloof for a while but was "shocked" to learn that he was the gunman in Tuesday's mass shooting.

“It’s wrong, man, it’s pretty bad. I feel sorry for the kids that died,” Alvarez said.

Ramos' mother is in San Antonio visiting her mother who was hospitalized in critical condition after allegedly being shot by Ramos before he went to the school. She is expected to return to Uvalde on Wednesday afternoon, Alvarez said.

Becky Flores, 54, who lives next door to Ramos’ mother and was Ramos' Head Start teacher, also described tumult at the home.

Flores said there were many disturbances, including two months ago when eight police officers arrived the day Ramos left to stay with his grandmother.

But, she said, none of it hinted at the violence that unfolded Tuesday.

“I don’t know what made him do this,” Flores said. 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said the gunman had no known mental health history.

Abbott said “there was no meaningful forewarning of this crime” other than three social media posts on Facebook.

The first, posted 30 minutes before the gunman reached the school, was about intending to shoot his grandmother, Abbott said. The second said he shot his grandmother. The third was about intending to shoot an elementary school. The final post was made less than 15 minutes after the gunman arrived to the school.

Some who knew Ramos said his behavior had become increasingly concerning.

Salvador Ramos’ mother’s home in Uvalde, Texas. (Deon Hampton / NBC News) © Deon Hampton Salvador Ramos’ mother’s home in Uvalde, Texas. (Deon Hampton / NBC News)

Santos Valdez Jr., 18, told the Washington Post that the two had been friends since elementary school until Ramos' behavior changed.

Valdez told the newspaper Ramos would sometimes drive around with another friend and shoot at random people with his BB gun and also egg people’s cars.

Ramos once met him at a park where they often played basketball with cuts all over his face, initially blaming the injuries on a cat, Valdez said, according to the Washington Post.

“Then he told me the truth, that he’d cut up his face with knives over and over and over," Valdez told the newspaper. “I was like, ‘You’re crazy, bro, why would you do that?’”

Valdez said Ramos replied that he did it for fun, the Post reported.

Hampton reported from Uvalde, Ali from Chicago.

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