President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid their condolences at a tribute to the 19 pupils and two teachers killed in a mass murder at a Texas elementary school on Sunday, bringing comfort to a city torn apart by grief and outrage.
Biden’s journey to Uvalde was his second in as many weeks to soothe a community reeling from a tragic shooting loss. On May 17, he came to Buffalo, New York, to meet with victims’ families and condemn white supremacy in the aftermath of a shooter who used the racist “replacement theory” to kill ten Black people in a supermarket.
Biden paused at Robb Elementary School to pay her respects to a monument of 21 white crosses, one for each of those slain, and the first lady put a bouquet of white flowers to a pile in front of the school sign. As the couple walked down the row, they passed by individual altars built in memory of each pupil, and the first lady caressed the children’s images.
The shootings in Texas and New York, as well as their aftermath, brought the country’s deep divisions and inability to reach a consensus on how to minimize gun violence to the forefront once again.
“Evil came to that Texas elementary school classroom, to that New York grocery shop, and to far too many other places where innocent people have died,” Biden said at the University of Delaware’s commencement address on Saturday. “We must be more resilient. We have to be more resilient. I understand that tragedy cannot be eradicated, but we can make America a safer place.”
Biden arrived for Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church after visiting the memorial, where a teacher nearby held up a placard that read, “Mr. President, thank you for coming.” “My profession is that of a teacher.” Before returning to Washington, the president intended to meet privately with family members at a community center and then with first responders at the airport. He wasn’t supposed to say anything official.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed on Tuesday, said she admired Biden’s decision to join the Uvalde community in mourning.
She explained, “It’s not just mourning.” “We’re looking for something different.” Action is what we seek. It keeps happening. There has been a mass shooting. It’s been broadcast on television. People break down in tears. It’s gone after that. It makes no difference to anyone. Then it occurs once again. “Once again.”
“If there’s anything I could tell Joe Biden, it’s to respect our community while he’s here, which I’m sure he will,” she continued. “However, change is necessary.” It is imperative that we take action.”
The Bidens’ visit comes as the police reaction to the shooting has become increasingly questioned. Officials disclosed on Friday that children and teachers urged 911 operators for assistance repeatedly, despite a police commander ordering over a dozen policemen to wait in a hallway. The commander believed the perpetrator was barricaded inside an adjacent classroom and that the attack was no longer underway, according to officials.
The news added to the sadness and prompted further questions about whether more lives were lost as a result of authorities’ failure to respond quickly enough to stop the gunman, who was eventually killed by Border Patrol tactical officers.
Ronnie Garza, a Uvalde County commissioner, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “it’s easy to point fingers right now,” before adding, “Our community needs to focus on healing right now.”