Mourners visit a memorial for a victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school, in City of Uvalde Town Square on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.
Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
President Joe Biden on Sunday sought to comfort families within the Texas town of Uvalde following the nation’s deadliest school shooting in a decade as federal officials announced they’d review law enforcement’s slow response.
Fury has mounted over the choice by law enforcement agencies in Uvalde to permit the shooter to stay in a classroom for nearly an hour while officers waited within the hallway and kids contained in the room made panicked 911 calls for help.
The president and first lady Jill Biden wiped away tears as they visited memorials on the Robb Elementary School where the gunman killed 19 students and two teachers, laying white roses at the college’s sign.
On the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, all of the pews were filled because the Bidens attended mass. The Bidens will meet with victims’ families, survivors and first responders.
Police say the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the college on Tuesday with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after earlier killing his grandmother.
Official accounts of how police responded to the shooting have flip-flopped wildly. The U.S. Department of Justice on Sunday said it could review local law enforcement response on the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.
Julian Moreno, a former pastor at Primera Iglesia Bautista and great-grandfather of one among the women killed, said police made an enormous error but that he felt “sorry for them because they must live with that mistake of just standing by.”
The Uvalde shooting has once more put gun control at the highest of the nation’s agenda, months ahead of the November midterm elections, with supporters of stronger gun laws arguing that the newest bloodshed represents a tipping point.
Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly called for major reforms to America’s gun laws but has been powerless to stop mass shootings or persuade Republicans that stricter controls could stem the carnage.
The Texas visit is Biden’s third presidential trip to a mass shooting site, including earlier this month when he visited Buffalo, Latest York, after a gunman killed 10 Black people in a Saturday afternoon attack at a food market.
Biden was accompanied on Sunday by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who opposes latest gun restrictions, and other local officials.
“We want help, Governor Abbott,” some in the gang yelled as Biden arrived at the college. Others shouted: “Shame on you, Abbott.”
White House aides and shut allies say Biden is unlikely to wade into specific policy proposals or take executive motion on firearms to avoid disrupting delicate negotiations within the divided Senate.
Democrats within the Senate also dialed down the rhetoric as negotiations continued throughout the chamber’s Memorial Day holiday recess this week.
“We have to be realistic about what we will achieve,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin told CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday. Durbin’s fellow Democrats narrowly control the 50-50 split Senate but need 60 votes to pass most laws.
Vice President Kamala Harris called for a ban on assault-style rifles during a visit to Buffalo on Saturday, calling such firearms “a weapon of war.”
Leading Republicans like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former President Donald Trump and Abbott have rejected calls for brand new gun control measures and as a substitute suggested investing in mental health care or tightening school security.
Ramos, a highschool dropout, had no criminal record and no history of mental illness but had posted threatening messages on social media.