UVALDE, Texas — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden flew to Texas on Sunday to meet with the families of the victims of a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
Update 12:20 p.m. EDT May 29: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden observed a moment of silence as they visited Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting on Tuesday.
Biden made the sign of the cross and the first lady placed a bouquet of flowers at the makeshift memorial in front of the school.
The President and first lady viewed the 21 white crosses at the memorial -- one for each person killed -- and looked at individual altars erected for each child killed.
Update 11:48 a.m. EDT May 29: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived in Uvalde aboard Marine One, landing at about 10:47 a.m. CDT, according to KSAT-TV.
Update 11:10 a.m. EDT May 29: The President landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio shortly after 10 a.m. CDT, WOAI-TV reported. He then boarded Marine One to visit Uvalde.
Original report: Biden was expected to visit the makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School before attending Mass at a local Catholic church, according to The Associated Press. He was also scheduled to meet with family members at a community center and then with first responders at the local airport before returning to Washington, the White House said. The President was not expected to deliver formal remarks.
The President and the first lady flew to Texas from Delaware on Sunday morning and were expected to visit the memorial site first before attending mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, WOAI-TV reported.
In addition to the 21 fatalities at the school, 17 other people were injured by the 18-year-old shooter, including three law enforcement officers, The Washington Post reported. Salvador Ramos entered the school building “unobstructed” through a door that was unlocked, KSAT-TV reported. He was eventually killed by law enforcement more than an hour later.
The trip to Texas was Biden’s second this month to a city suffering in the aftermath of a mass shooting. He visited Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to speak with the victims of a shooting at a supermarket where 10 Black people were killed by a man who espoused the racist “replacement theory.”
“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died,” Biden said Saturday during a commencement address at the University of Delaware. “We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
During a news conference, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said an incident commander in charge of the police response made “the wrong decision” when he stopped treating the gunman as an active shooter, the Post reported. McCraw said the commander instead viewed the shooter as a “barricaded subject” as his shots became less frequent.
On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris also visited Buffalo, to attend the funeral of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the oldest person killed in the attack, WGRZ-TV reported.
“This is a moment that requires all good people, all God-loving people to stand up and say we will not stand for this. Enough is enough,” Harris said in impromptu remarks. “We will come together based on what we all know we have in common, and we will not let those people who are motivated by hate separate us or make us feel fear.”
The crosses at the memorial are quickly collecting mementos, stuffed animals, toys, flowers and photos, according to The Dallas Morning News.
A Baby Yoda doll and a mini football was left at the base of the cross for 10-year-old Rojelio Torres. At the cross remembering Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10, was a brown teddy bear and a pink unicorn made of plastic. A Disney Stitch doll was left for Jose Flores, 10, according to the newspaper.
Annabelle Rodriguez, 10, got a wreath made of crayons and a blue teddy bear.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed Tuesday, said she respected Biden’s decision to mourn in Uvalde.
“It’s more than mourning,” Hinojosa told the AP. “We want change. We want action. It continues to be something that happens over and over and over. A mass shooting happens. It’s on the news. People cry. Then it’s gone. Nobody cares. And then it happens again. And again.
“If there’s anything if I could tell Joe Biden, as it is, just to respect our community while he’s here, and I’m sure he will. But we need change. We need to do something about it.”
©2022 Cox Media Group