Joe Biden faced calls from protesters to “do something” when he visited the Uvalde community on Sunday to mourn families haunted and shattered by last week’s gun violence.
The US president arrived at Robb Elementary School along with First Lady Jill Biden and visited a sprawling 21 white crosses memorial to the 19 students and two teachers who were killed in the mass shooting.
Mrs. Biden laid out a bouquet of white flowers as the couple stood for some time at each altar as the first lady touched the life-sized photographs of the children lining the long line. The president was also seen at one point wiping a tear.
After visiting the memorial, Mr Biden attended mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where relatives of the victims of the shooting had already gathered.
But as the Bidens left the church, waving to the crowd of some 100, chants of “do something” rang in the air.
Mr Biden replied “we will” as he got into his car.
During the visit, the president tweeted that he is grieving, praying and standing with the people of Uvalde. “And we are committed to turning this pain into action,” he said.
This was Biden’s second visit in two weeks to console a community shaken by mass shootings. He visited Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet with the families of victims of a targeted racist attack and condemned white supremacy.
The latest shootings have fueled fears among many Americans who are already frustrated with the government’s inability to reach consensus on measures to reduce gun violence.
The president’s visit came amid criticism and mounting calls for police’s alleged delayed response during the hour of violence at the school in Uvalde.
Witnesses revealed that students repeatedly begged 911 operators for help and that parents outside the school urged police officers to raid Robb Elementary as the carnage unfolded. But officials said the commander believed the suspect had been barricaded in an adjacent classroom and there was no threat of an active attack.
The Justice Department announced on Sunday that it will review law enforcement’s response and make its findings public.
“It’s easy to point the finger now,” Ronnie Garza, a Uvalde County commissioner, told CBS’ Face the nationbefore adding, “Our community must now focus on healing.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who went to the school to meet Mr. Biden, was booed and harassed by the angry mob.
The Republican has previously said he expects new laws after the elementary school shooting, but when pressed for details, Abbott’s response has focused more on mental health than gun reform.
Mr Biden, who has sought to address gun violence through executive orders, has stopped demanding Congress pass a specific bill amid sharp divisions in Washington over gun laws.
Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of senators in Congress discussed ways to reach even a modest compromise on gun safety legislation after a decade of largely unsuccessful efforts.
But the efforts discussed to curb gun violence encouraging national “red flags” laws to keep guns away from people with mental health problems and addressing school safety and mental health were on the table, said Sen. Chris Murphy, who announced the efforts. leads.
“There are more Republicans willing to talk about finding a way forward this time around than I’ve ever seen since Sandy Hook,” Murphy said.
“And while I may be heartbroken in the end, I now sit at the table with Republicans and Democrats in a more significant way than ever before.”