On Sunday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived in Uvalde, Texas, one week after a gunman there killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers.
The couple laid a bouquet of white roses at the makeshift memorial along a chain-link fence outside of Robb Elementary School, spending about 20 minutes at the site before attending a nearby church service in honor of the victims.
As Biden left the church, the New York Times reported, a spectator yelled, “Do something!” The president responded, “We will.” The Bidens then departed for the Uvalde County Arena, where families were gathered.
Earlier on Sunday, the Justice Department announced that it was launching an investigation into the law enforcement response to the shooting. The move came at the behest of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin in the wake of sickening reports that emerged in the days following the massacre about the chaotic and misguided response by officials on the ground as the tragic events unfolded.
As 911 records and witness accounts indicate, it took more than an hour for law enforcement to breach the classroom where the gunman was located, with the commander on the scene ordering assembled officers not to storm the building. During that time, children from inside the school, some of them lying beside dying classmates, made repeated calls to 911, begging for them to send the police. Outside, frantic parents urged cops to act, in some cases being wrestled to the ground by officers if they tried to rush the building themselves.
Officers from the Uvalde Police Department, the local sheriff’s department, state police, and, eventually, Border Patrol, were on the scene. The Border Patrol Tactical Unit, a highly trained SWAT team, eventually got the green light to storm the classroom where the gunman had already fired nearly 100 rounds.
On Saturday, during a commencement speech to graduates at the University of Delaware, President Biden spoke of the agony parents of Uvalde are enduring: “I will go to Uvalde, Texas, to talk with those families. While I’m talking, those parents are getting ready to bury their children in the United States of America. Too much violence, too much fear, and too much sadness.”
The Bidens’ trip to Texas comes less than two weeks after they went to Buffalo, New York, to meet and grieve with the victims’ families of the grocery-store massacre where a gunman killed 10 people.
While the Bidens traveled to Uvalde, Vice President Kamala Harris was in Buffalo this weekend. On Saturday, she attended the funeral of the oldest person killed in the racially-motivated attacks, an 86-year-old named Ruth Whitfield.
“This is a moment that requires all good people who are loving people to just say we will not stand for this. Enough is enough,” Harris said.
Biden and Harris have called for a ban on assault weapons, which were used in both massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde.