Before massacre, Uvalde gunman frequently threatened teen girls online

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He could be cryptic, demeaning and scary, sending angry messages and photos of guns. If they didn’t respond how he wanted, he sometimes threatened to rape or kidnap them — then laughed it off as some big joke.

But the girls and young women who talked with Salvador Ramos online in the months before he allegedly killed 19 children in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, rarely reported him. His threats seemed too vague, several said in interviews with The Washington Post. One teen who reported Ramos on the social app Yubo said nothing happened as a result.

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Some also suspected this was just how teen boys talked on the Internet these days — a blend of rage and misogyny so predictable they could barely tell each one apart. One girl, discussing moments when he had been creepy and threatening, said that was just “how online is.”

In the aftermath of the deadliest school shooting in a decade, many have asked what more could have been done — how an 18-year-old who spewed so much hate to so many on the Web could do so without provoking punishment or raising alarm.

But these threats hadn’t been discovered by parents, friends or teachers. They’d been seen by strangers, many of whom had never met him and had found him only through the social messaging and video apps that form the bedrock of modern teen life.

The Washington Post reviewed videos, posts and text messages sent by Ramos and spoke with four young people who’d talked with him online, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of further harassment.

Community members express shock and grief in Uvalde, Tex. at a memorial for the 19 students and two adults killed in a mass shooting. (Video: Alice Li, Jon Gerberg, Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

The girls who spoke with The Post lived around the world but met Ramos on Yubo, an app that mixes live-streaming and social networking and has become known as a “Tinder for teens.” The Yubo app has been downloaded more than 18 million times in the U.S., including more than 200,000 times last month, according to estimates from the analytics firm Sensor Tower.

On Yubo, people can gather in big real-time chatrooms, known as panels, to talk, type messages and share videos — the digital equivalent of a real-world hangout. Ramos, they said, struck up side conversations with them and followed them onto other platforms, including Instagram, where he could send direct messages whenever he wanted.

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But over time they saw a darker side, as he posted images of dead cats, texted them strange messages and joked about sexual assault, they said. In a video from a live Yubo chatroom that listeners had recorded and was reviewed by The Post, Ramos could be heard saying, “Everyone in this world deserves to get raped.”

A 16-year-old boy in Austin who said he saw Ramos frequently in Yubo panels, told The Post that Ramos frequently made aggressive, sexual comments to young women on the app and sent him a death threat during one panel in January.

“I witnessed him harass girls and…



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