LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — In the midst of the tragedy that has plagued Uvalde, Texas after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school Tuesday, the SunCoast Blood Centers is now activated.
The nonprofit, which is Florida's partner in the national Blood Emergency Readiness Corps, will be sending needed blood products to local hospitals in and around the city.
"Our hearts are broken by this senseless tragedy," Scott Bush, CEO of SunCoast Blood Centers, said in a statement. “We have mobilized our team to support the needs of local patients and hospitals in South Texas and we are sending blood to our partner blood center, South Texas Blood and Tissue, who are the stewards of the local blood supply in that part of Texas."
The activation announced Wednesday marks the second time the SunCoast Blood Centers have been called to help provide blood during a national emergency, nonprofit leaders explain in a news release.
"There's an urgent need for O+ and O- blood," Bush explained in the statement. "This need only amplifies the critical state of the nation's blood supply and our own situation here on the Suncoast."
Since Dec. 1, the nonprofit has collected extra blood products as part of its on-call schedule.
"Our participation in this national emergency cooperative is on a rotating 3-week cycle," leaders explain.
Anyone interested in dating blood can call 1-866-972-5663 or on the web: suncoastblood.org.
An accused 18-year-old gunman who opened fire at the elementary school killed at least 19 children and two adults, officials said. The gunman was killed by law enforcement.
The latest death toll comes from a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Officials said the gunman was working alone. In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott identified the alleged shooter as an 18-year-old man from Uvalde named Salvador Ramos.
Abbott said the man walked into Robb Elementary School, about 85 miles west of San Antonio, and opened fire. It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
A Border Patrol agent who was nearby when the shooting began rushed into the school without waiting for backup and shot and killed the gunman, who was behind a barricade, according to a law enforcement official speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about it.
The agent was wounded but able to walk out of the school, the law enforcement source said.