On Sunday, US President Joe Biden grieved privately for three hours with relatives of victims left behind after a shooter massacred 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde. As he left a church service, chanting of “do something” greeted Biden, who swore, “We will.”
At Robb Elementary School, Biden paid a visit to a monument of 21 white crosses, one for each of those slain, and first lady Jill Biden donated a bouquet of white flowers to those already in front of the school sign. The couple then walked down the row of individual altars built in memory of each kid, with the first lady touching the children’s images as they went.
Following his visit to the memorial, Biden attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is home to numerous victims’ relatives, one of whom was there.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller addressed the crowd directly to the children, some of whom appeared to be approximately the same age as the fatalities.
“You have seen the news, you have witnessed the tears of your parents, friends,” he continued, encouraging them not to be afraid of life. “You are the best reminders to us that the lives of the little ones are important.”
A gathering of nearly 100 people began yelling “do something” as Biden left the chapel to meet privately with family members. As he got into his car, Biden said, “We will.” What the president was implying was not immediately obvious.
During his visit, Biden tweeted that he am grieving, praying, and standing with the people of Uvalde. “And we are committed to turning this pain into action,” he added.
Biden’s visit to Uvalde was his second in two weeks to console a city in mourning following a mass massacre. On May 17, he drove to Buffalo, New York, to meet with victims’ families and condemn white supremacy after a shooter who believed in the racist “replacement theory” massacred ten Black people in a store.
Both shootings and their aftermath shed new light on the country’s deep divisions and inability to reach a consensus on ways to curb gun violence.
“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 mentioned this during a graduating speech at the University of Delaware on Saturday. “We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
Before returning to his home in Delaware, Biden visited with first responders. It was unclear whether the group included officers involved in the initial response to the incident.
Biden’s visit coincided with increased scrutiny of the police reaction. Officials disclosed on Friday that students and instructors begged 911 operators for assistance repeatedly as a police commander urged more than a dozen policemen to wait in a hallway. According to officials, the commander believed the suspect was barricaded inside a neighbouring classroom and that the attack was no longer ongoing.
The news added to the anguish and sparked further questions about whether lives were lost because authorities did not move quickly enough to apprehend the gunman, who was eventually killed by Border Patrol tactical officers.
The Justice Department announced on Sunday that it will conduct an investigation into the law enforcement response and make its findings public.