The president of the United States and the first lady hope to comfort a city on Sunday struck by pain and anger when they meet with families affected by a massacre at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The visit to the city of Uvalde is the second trip for Joe Biden in a matter of weeks to comfort a community in mourning after a staggering loss.
On May 17, he was in Buffalo, New York, to meet with the families of the victims and condemn white supremacy after a racist gunman advocating “replacement theory” killed 10 black people in a supermarket.
The Texas and New York shootings and their aftermath have highlighted the deep divisions in the country and their inability to reach a consensus on measures to reduce gun violence.
Joe and Jill Biden in Uvalde. AFP Photo
“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to too many places where innocents have died,” Biden said Saturday during a commencement address at the University of Delaware. “We have to be stronger. We have to be stronger. We can’t ban tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
Biden visited a memorial site set up in front of Robb Elementary School toBefore attending mass at a local Catholic church. 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. He is not expected to make a formal speech.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed Tuesday, said she respected Biden’s decision to mourn the people of Uvalde. “It’s more than a duel,” she stated. “We want a change. We want action. It’s still something that happens over and over again. A mass shooting ensues. It’s on the news. People cry. Then everything disappears. Nobody cares. Then it happens again. Again”.
Joe Biden hugs Mandy Gutierrez. AFP Photo
“If there’s one thing I could say to Joe Biden, as he stands, it’s to respect our community while he’s here and I’m sure he will,” he added. “But we need a change. We need to do something about it.”
The Bidens’ visit to Uvalde comes amid growing scrutiny of the police response to the shooting. Authorities revealed on Friday that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators to help them, even as a police commander told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway.
Officials said the commander believed the suspect was barricaded inside an adjoining classroom and an attack was no longer underway.
Source: AFP and EFE