By Terrance Turner
May 24, 2022
President Joe Biden is addressing the nation tonight after yet another mass shooting.
“I’d hoped that when I became President I would not have to do this — again,” he said. “Another massacre. Uvalde, TX. An elementary school . Beautiful, innocent, second- third- fourth-graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened, seen their friends die — as if they’re on a battlefield for God’s sake?”
Initial reports stated that one teacher and fourteen students have been killed in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. But in the last hour, the Texas Department of Public Safety said that 18 children and one adult have been killed. (UPDATE: the death toll now includes 19 children and at least two adults.) It is the seventh shooting in Texas this year and the deadliest shooting at an elementary school since the devastating attack on students at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
According to CBS Austin, the deadly shooting began 11:43 a.m. Tuesday at Robb Elementary off Old Carrizo Road near U.S. Highway 83. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news conference that the gunman was an 18-year-old named Salvatore Ramos, who shot and killed his own grandmother before entering Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a town about 85 miles west of San Antonio.
”He shot and killed — horrifically, incomprehensibly — 14 students, and killed a teacher,” said the governor earlier this evening, adding that two officers were shot and wounded but were expected to survive. Abbott added that the gunman has been shot and killed by authorities. (The shooter acted alone, according to Pete Arredondo, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District chief of police. Arrendondo said that an investigation is ongoing.)
“Two hospitals in the area are treating those injured in the shooting. Uvalde Memorial Hospital told The Texas Tribune it had received 13 children and one adult from ambulances and buses. Two patients arrived at the hospital dead. Two children have since been transferred to San Antonio for treatment, while a third is pending transfer. University Health in San Antonio is providing care for two patients connected to the shooting. The 66-year-old woman and the 10-year-old girl are in critical condition.”
Teachers and students were evacuated to the city’s civic center, and parents were able to pick up their children. But at least one parent told ABC News that he was still looking for his child. Brandon Elrod told the station KTRK that he went to the funeral home searching for his daughter, fearing that “she may not be alive.”
Ryan Ramirez told KSAT in San Antonio that he could not find his daughter, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary, when he showed up at the school or at a reunification point at a civic center. “Nobody’s telling me anything,” he said, adding, “I’m trying to find out where my baby’s at.” And parent Federico Torres is also looking for his son:
According to the Texas Tribune, Robb Elementary teaches second, third and fourth grade students (meaning that 3rd and 4th grade students are among the dead). The school had 535 students in the 2020-2021 school year, most of them Hispanic and considered economically disadvantaged. Uvalde itself is a predominantly Hispanic town.
This shooting comes just 10 days after a deadly shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in which ten people were killed. The Texas shooting continues an unsettling trend. According to ABC-13 reporter Ted Oberg, Texas leads the nation in mass shootings, as well as suicides by firearm.
As word spread about the shooting, online observers noted that Gov. Abbott (along with Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz) is scheduled to speak at an NRA convention. The National Rifle Association convention will take place in Houston beginning on May 27. Twitter took notice:
UPDATE: In a brief statement, the Uvalde School Superintendent emotionally addressed viewers. “The school year is done. There will be no school tomorrow or Thursday.” He added: “My heart is broken tonight.”
Tonight, President Biden (who himself lost his wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972 and a son to cancer in 2015) described the feeling that so many parents share tonight. “To lose a child is like is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into it,” he said. “It is never quite the same. It’s a feeling shared by the siblings and grandparents and the family members and the community left behind. Scripture says – and Jill and I have take about this in another context. – the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. So many crushed spirits. So tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them. To give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.
As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we gonna stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name when will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done? It’s been 3,448 days — 10 years — since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut, where a gunman massacred 26 people — including twenty first-graders — at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, there have been over 900 incidences of gunfire on school grounds.”
“I am sick and tired of it,” Biden said. “We have to act.”
Most American support common-sense gun laws,” Biden said, adding that “these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental heath problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with this kind of frequency that happen in America. Why?” he asked. Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”
May the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit — ’cause they’re gonna need a lot of help,” Biden said.