Our live coverage of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has ended for the day.
Vice President Kamala Harris called for an assault weapons ban in remarks on Saturday following back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, telling reporters that “everybody's got to stand up and agree that this should not be happening in our country, and that we should have the courage to do something about it.”
“On the issue of gun violence, I will say, as I've said countless times, we are not sitting around waiting to figure out what the solution looks like. You know, we're not looking for a vaccine,” Harris told reporters in Buffalo. “We know what works on this. It includes, let's have an assault weapons ban. You know what an assault weapon is. You know how an assault weapon was designed. It was designed for a specific purpose, to kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war with no place, no place in a civil society.”
The Vice President, who also took the opportunity to call for enhanced background checks for firearm purchases, noted that to date, there have been more than 200 mass shootings in the country, despite being “barely halfway through the year.”
“What's happened just, with those babies and the teachers being killed in Texas, the funerals haven't even really begun in terms of mourning that loss,” she said. “We're looking, at on the heels of Atlanta just a year ago, Orlando, the Tree of Life — we have to agree that if we are to be strong as a nation, we must stand strong, identifying our diversity as our unity, and that anyone who is trying to break that down, it's hurting us as a country and as individuals who should identify as one, as a country as Americans.”
Harris also noted that President Joe Biden is heading to Texas tomorrow.
“[He will] be with the families who have lost their babies at a school. We have to, everybody's got to stand up and agree that this should not be happening in our country, and that we should have the courage to do something about it,” Harris added.
She did not respond to a shouted question on if Biden would pursue an executive order if Congress failed to pass meaningful gun reform.
Patrick Johnson stands in Uvalde’s town square, hidden under a tree's merciful shade as the sun beams down on the city. Little children approach him shyly, drawn to his table covered with toys.
Johnson, 58, is one of the many people who have traveled a long way to be here with the Uvalde community as it struggles to comprehend how an 18-year-old shooter killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary on Tuesday.
Johnson said he was eating lunch at a restaurant when he found out about the school shooting through a social media post.
“I immediately broke down and weeped,” the father of four told CNN. “I’m not even from this community, but I’m hurting. It makes you think about your own kids. It makes you realize it could’ve been you, mourning your children.”
So Johnson chose to take action. The day after the shooting, he drove more than 7 hours to Uvalde from his hometown of Harleton, Texas. His first stop was a Walmart, where he packed his trunk full of children’s toys before heading to the town square.
“There’s a lot of ways to be a blessing to people,” he said. “Whenever something like this happens, I do my research and contact local law enforcement and ask 'what I can do?' What does your community need right now?”
For the past three days, Johnson has set up a table covered in children’s toys — from stuffed animals and miniature trucks to frisbees and soccer balls. Every time his table empties, he heads back to Walmart and restocks before returning to his spot.
“When you lose something, especially as a child, you need something else to hold onto,” he said. "It brings joy to the kids, so it brings joy to me."
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. I was giving out toys, and a little girl wanted a big white puppy I had; she just lit up. I told her I’d race her for the toy, and I let her win. She got the toy puppy and the way she held onto it … She hugged me and said thank you and how she was so happy. That’s why I’m here. It was a real tearjerker.”
This isn’t Johnson’s first time traveling to be with a community in mourning because of a shooting. Following the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting and the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting, both which also occurred in Texas, Johnson immediately got in his car and made his way there.
But Johnson — and all the communities who have been affected by these shootings — are exhausted, he said, and ready for something to change.
“We keep saying it, thoughts and prayers isn’t enough. People need more than prayers,” Johnson said. “If I’m hungry, and you come up to me and say 'I’m going to pray for you,' I’m going to look at you crazy. Give me a chicken leg or a burger or something. It’s common sense. It’s getting to a point where we’re sick of this and we have to do something about it.”
Johnson said Uvalde reminds him of his own tight-knit community.
“Especially in Texas, we don’t wait on the government to get things done, we help our own people. There’s strength in numbers. The community will heal. It won’t be easy,” he said.
The key thing, Johnson added, is keeping the help going and not abandoning the Uvalde community once the dead are buried and the news moves on.
“When you lose a loved one, you go to a funeral and you offer flowers. But at some point, those flowers wither. When the flowers have withered, these people will still need help. We need to be there for Uvalde long-term.”
Vice President Kamala Harris appealed to those mourning the death of an 86-year-old woman killed in this month's racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that "all good people" should stand up and say "enough is enough."
Harris said there is a "through line" to the shootings in Buffalo and others, including this week's deadly school shooting in Uvalde.
"There's a through line, what happened here in Buffalo, in Texas, in Atlanta, in Orlando, what happened at the synagogues," she said. "And so this is a moment that requires all good people, all God-loving people, to stand up and say, 'We will not stand for this. Enough is enough,' we will come together based on what we all know we have in common, and we will not let those people who are motivated by hate separate us or make us feel fear."
Harris was seated in the front row at a memorial service for Ruth Whitfield, a woman who had just left from visiting her husband at a nursing home when she stopped at a supermarket to buy groceries. Nine other people were killed when a White supremacist opened fired inside a Tops grocery store in Buffalo two weeks ago today.
Harris was not expected to make remarks at the memorial service, but as the Rev. Al Sharpton was addressing the crowd, he said, "I'm going to break protocol. I think that we should insist that we hear from the Vice President of the United States of America."
"The pain that this family is feeling right now, and the nine other families here in Buffalo, I cannot even begin to express our collective pain as a nation for what you are feeling in such an extreme way," Harris said. "To not only lose someone that you love, but through an act of extreme violence and hate. And I do believe that our nation right now is experiencing an epidemic of hate."
She said Americans were "in this together" and that "we are strong in our belief of what is right."
"No one should be made to fight alone. We are stronger than those who would try to hurt us think that we are," she said. "That we are strong, we are strong in our faith, we are strong in our belief about what is right, and our determination to act to insure that we protect all those who deserve to be protected, that we see all those who deserve to be seen, that we hear the voices of those people, and that we rise up in solidarity to speak out against this. And to speak to our better angels."
During his commencement address at the University of Delaware, President Joe Biden called on Americans to “make America safer” in the wake of the deadly Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
“In the face of such destructive forces, we have to stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer. We can finally do what we have to do to protect the lives of our people and of our children," the President told the audience at his alma mater on Saturday. “So I call on all Americans this hour to join hands and make your voices heard to make this nation what it can and should be.”
The President’s remarks come ahead of a scheduled trip to Texas on Sunday, where he is expected to grieve with the community.
“I’ll be heading to Uvalde, Texas, to speak to those families. As I speak, those parents are literally preparing to bury their children — in the United States of America, bury their children. There is too much violence, too much fear, too much grief,” he said.
Biden also spoke about the shooting in Buffalo, New York, two weeks ago, where Vice President Kamala Harris is attending the funeral of one of the victims today.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said he has spoken to the head of Texas Department of Public Safety this morning, who assured him there will be a "detailed report including ballistics by next week" about the response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde.
"We're all angry. Law enforcement's angry. I had a long conversation this morning on the way in with [DPS Director] Steve McCraw, and he was crying to me and I'm crying to him. And everybody is frustrated about the failures of what happened. He's assured me I'll have a detailed report including ballistics by next week. I want to know when each agency was here. Moving forward, he assured me never again will DPS stand down for any law enforcement agency. I hope that that's true," Gutierrez told CNN's Boris Sanchez in front of a memorial in the city.
McCraw yesterday provided details and fielded questions about the timeline of the shooting. Rather than immediately try to breach a classroom and engage with the gunman, McCraw said the commander — who he later identified as the school district's chief of police — decided that "there was time to retrieve the keys, and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject." McCraw called it "the wrong decision."
Gov. Greg Abbott also told reporters Friday he was misled by authorities the day after the shooting, and he is "livid."
Gutierrez said he has asked Abbott to give $2 million to Community Health Development, Inc., a nonprofit health clinic in Uvalde.
There is only one psychiatrist in the city, he said. "We need to have therapists here in place," he added.
He said if he cannot get the money from the governor's office, he'll be looking to the private sector to provide funding.
Abbott yesterday said that free mental health services will be provided for Uvalde residents.
The state senator also spoke about the tight-knit community reeling from the mass shooting.
"Latinos, there's something very humbling about us. I'm the son of immigrants, you know, and you strive to be in this country, and you come up and ... we work hard. And this community is an incredibly hardworking community, multi-generational Americans here, four, five generations [of] Hispanic Americans. And they're just such wonderful people," Gutierrez said, his voice shaking.
Gutierrez encouraged the media and Americans to "stay engaged."
"No community anywhere in the United States should have to deal with this. How an 18-year-old can access militarized weaponry anywhere is beyond me. And so please stay engaged. Please stay engaged," he said.
The four large mirrors on the wall at Town House usually capture the smiles and laughter of families as they gather for a warm meal among neighbors. Tonight, they reflect all angles of heartbreak.
The tan booths and dark wooden tables at this family-style restaurant overflow with diners. It’s hard for servers to squeeze by as they take orders and refill empty glasses. Despite the crowd, it’s uncomfortably quiet.
What’s there to say?
A gunman a day earlier had viciously murdered 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school just a couple miles down the road – and nothing will ever be the same.
“They were just babies,” one woman whispers, her body shifting toward the large television in the center of the dining room.
“Just babies,” the two men sitting beside her echo.
It’s tuned to the evening news, which appears stuck in a merciless loop of dead children’s faces and the gruesome details of a Texas massacre no one is likely to forget.
Juan Martinez, Town House’s co-owner, has served this community for more than 40 years. He’s never seen it so somber, so torn up. People are crying in every corner of the restaurant famous for its comfort food.
“It’s dark and heavy,” waitress Cristy Marsh offers up. “But it’s not always like this; we’re a family here. People are usually happy, coming in to listen to the music and eat together. But right now, it’s dark.”
Marsh can’t stop picturing the carnage in her mind. She’s forgetting orders and walking around in a haze. The restaurant is short-staffed because five children related to employees were killed in the slaughter, she says, and her colleagues are out, grieving their dead. Servers who did come in take breaks in the back to cry.
Across the restaurant, a woman sits with her partner, holding a cup of coffee. Her eyes have not moved from the television screen, and tears drop silently. Her drink has surely gone cold, as she hasn’t taken a sip all night.
Continue reading here.
Crystal Sanchez recalls the smiles of hundreds of children when they got free manicures and had their hair spray-painted during the “Día de los Niños” celebration at the Uvalde County Fairplex. Parents and residents across this small South Texas town spent hours solely honoring and celebrating their youngest.
Nearly a month later, the memories of that April 29 event feel distant for Sanchez, a 42-year-old mother of two who works at a local beauty school.
Grief and frustration have set in, and prayers have replaced the laughter that once echoed throughout the venue that sits on the edge of a town 80 miles west of San Antonio. Since Tuesday, residents have gathered daily to mourn after sorrow burst into what feels like nearly every household in this town of about 16,000 people.
Mass tragedy arrived in Uvalde this week when 19 children and two of their teachers were slaughtered by a gunman at Robb Elementary School, just two days before summer break. Children have always been at the center of the town’s pride and joy, dozens of residents say. And now, the losses of some of Uvalde’s brightest lights have become a source of heartbreak.
In downtown Uvalde, two of the longest federal highways in America – US Highway 83 and US 90 – intersect just like the feelings of many families this week. In one corner, portraits of high school seniors line the lawn outside City Hall. At another corner, flowers were placed next to white crosses bearing the names of each of Tuesday’s 21 victims along the town square's fountain.
“This was something that should have never happened,” Sanchez said. “Our prayers are with everyone because everywhere I go, everyone was affected whether you had a child in there or not. If you didn’t there’s guilt because you get to go home and feel happy with your family when you know that they’re never going to be the same.”
"We run in packs"
Wearing maroon-colored clothing in Uvalde is not unusual. But the amount of people wearing the city’s colors has multiplied over the week and taken on new meaning.
For decades, parents, abuelas and children have filled the stands at the Honey Bowl Stadium every fall to cheer for the Uvalde Coyotes during Friday night football games. After farmers and ranchers return home from the fields and many businesses shut down, residents routinely make their way to the stadium to watch one of their favorite pastimes.
As Uvalde attempts to find solace after Tuesday’s shooting, Marie Alice Ramos says there was nothing she could tell her friends or family that would make them feel better. Wearing her maroon T-shirt, she says, signaled something beyond words.
“It’s a statement. It shows that we are trying to be unified as one in a community that has been devastated,” the 45-year-old bartender said after she and a group of family members, all wearing maroon, stood near Robb Elementary late Wednesday.
“We run in packs. Coyotes run in packs,” one of her cousins, Jessica Ahoyt, who was standing next to her said while embracing her daughter.
Ahoyt’s daughter then added, “once a Coyote, always a Coyote.”
Read the full story here:
Here are the key moments he laid out (all times are in Central Standard Time):
11:27 a.m.: Video shows that an exterior door to Ross Elementary School that gunman Salvador Ramos entered was propped open by a teacher.
11:28 a.m: Ramos crashes a vehicle near the school into a ditch, gets out and begins firing upon two people who came outside to see the crash near a funeral home. Civilians are not struck by gunfire. The teacher runs to a room to get a phone, returns to the door, and the door remains open.
11:30 a.m.: The first 911 call is made to Uvalde police reporting a car crash and a man with a gun outside the school.
11:30 a.m.: The US Marshals Service says it received a call from a Uvalde police officer requesting assistance.
11:31 a.m.: The shooting suspect reaches the last row of cars in the school parking lot and shooting begins outside of the school. Patrol vehicles reach the funeral home, and a patrol car drives by shooter, who is hunkered down by another vehicle.
11:32 a.m.: The suspect fires at the school.
11:33 a.m.: The suspect enters the school and begins shooting into a classroom. He shot more than 100 rounds.
11:35 a.m.: A total of seven officers are on the scene, and three officers enter the school, later followed by an additional team of three more officers and a sheriff. Two of the initial officers received grazing wounds from the suspect while the classroom door was closed.
11:37 a.m.: Sixteen rounds were fired from 11:37 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.
11:43 a.m.: Robb Elementary announces on Facebook that "Robb Elementary is under a Lockdown Status due to gunshots in the area."
11:51 a.m.: More officers arrive.
12:03 p.m.: As many as 19 officers are in the school's hallway.
12:03 p.m.: A girl in room 112 of the school makes a 911 call.
12:10 p.m.: A 911 call is received from the same girl in room 112, reporting multiple people are dead.
12:13 p.m.: The girl makes another 911 call.
12:15 p.m.: A Border Patrol tactical unit team arrives on scene.
12:16 p.m.: The same girl makes another 911 call, reporting there were “eight to nine students alive."
12:17 p.m.: Robb Elementary announces on Facebook: "There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus. As soon as more information is gathered it will be shared. The rest of the district is under a Secure Status."
12:19 p.m.: A different 911 call is received from a caller in room 111, but the caller hung up after another student told them to.
12:21 p.m.: Suspect fires again.
12:21 p.m.: Another 911 call is received, and three shots fired are heard.
12:21 p.m.: Officers move down the hallway.
12:36 p.m.: There is a 911 call that lasts 21 seconds, with a student saying, "he shot the door."
12:43 and 12:47 p.m.: 911 caller says, "Please send police now."
12:46 p.m.: 911 caller can hear police next door.
12:50 p.m.: Shots are heard being fired over the 911 call.
12:50 p.m.: Law enforcement breach door using keys from janitor and kill suspect.
12:51 p.m.: On 911 call, it sounds like officers are moving children out of the room.