May 29, 2022 Texas shooting news

By Aya Elamroussi, Kelly McCleary and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0211 GMT (1011 HKT) May 30, 2022
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8:00 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Our live coverage surrounding the events of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has ended.

7:42 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Uvalde families call Biden's visit comforting

From CNN’s Mark Morales and Hannah Sarisohn

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the memorial outside of Robb Elementary School on May 29.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the memorial outside of Robb Elementary School on May 29. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Two family members of victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School told CNN that President Joe Biden was comforting during his meetings with them in Uvalde, Texas on Sunday.

Jose Cazares, the uncle of Jacklyn Cazares, and Vincent Salazar, the father of Layla Salazar -- both spoke about the President’s compassion and empathy toward the families of the victims. 

Cazares said the President reminded him of a father figure while Salazar said Biden was comforting like a grandfather.

When asked if the President said anything that will stick with him, Cazares pulled out a medal with the presidential seal which he said Biden gave to him. Cazares said he had first given the President the medal of St. Benedict. 

“He’s an amazing man,” Cazares said of Biden. “I’m proud of this because of my family, we served our country, that’s what we do. Not just for our family, for everybody. And he acknowledged that.”
“He was just a very compassionate man, he and his wife will be praying for the children,” Cazares said. “He cared. It wasn’t fake, you could tell he wasn’t there for a photo op. He wasn’t there for none of that, he was there for the people who were actually the victims, the families."

Salazar also said the President and first lady were just focused on his daughter, Layla. 

“It was really just all about my daughter, you know what I mean? That’s all we talked about. Like I said they were very gracious, they showed compassion. And that’s all we were here for. He listened to everything, we listened to him. He shed some tears, we shed some tears,” Salazar said.
“It’s good to know that we have a President now who has empathy, understanding. He’s been through these tragedies himself. It was really good, it was warming,” Salazar added.
“He makes it that way, he’s like your grandfather, I don’t know how to explain it.”
7:04 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Bidens meet with victims' families and first responders before returning to Delaware

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden met with families affected by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School at the end of their trip to Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday.

The Bidens spent the afternoon with the families of victims and survivors of the shooting at Uvalde County Arena, according to a White House pool report, before meeting with paramedics, mental health services providers, firefighters, and law enforcement officials at Garner Field.

The President and the first lady have departed Uvalde en route to San Antonio where they are expected to return to their home in Delaware.

Earlier in the day, the Bidens spoke with the school's principal and local officials before walking to a row of memorial wreaths, each marking one of the slain children or teachers. They touched cardboard cutouts of each one, their photos on the front circled by white flower garlands, in quiet observation.

The Bidens then attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller invited children from the devastated community to sit at the front.

5:57 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Trying to make a difference in Uvalde by cooking for a mourning community

From CNN’s Alaa Elassar in Uvalde

Carlos Hernandez loves to cook, especially when he gets to do it for the people he loves. So when a school shooting took place just a mile away from his restaurant, Carlito's Way, he chose cooking as a way to unify his community.

At first, Hernandez had no idea how he would be able to cook again: “There's no possible way I can open my kitchen with a broken heart and have fun doing it,” he wrote on Facebook hours after the shooter killed 19 children and two teachers.

But on Thursday, his 33rd birthday, Hernandez decided to do something. He put on his apron, set out the ingredients and got to it. Hernandez spent the morning cooking up his fan favorites from his restaurant: platters of crispy wings in three different flavors, sizzling creamy mac and cheese, and fried fish tacos with all the classic toppings.

Families who arrived were met with words of kindness, hugs and plates of food undoubtedly made with love. Unlike so much of the town, where people are joined together in tears and expressions of grief, there are only smiles here. Parents offer bites of food to the little ones who are too impatient to wait to get home before diving in. The aroma of food envelops this community in a blanket of hope -- and judging by the sound of laughter, the joy of eating together has brought them a desperately needed moment of happiness. 

Within two hours, Hernandez had given away more than 60 family-sized platters to feed mourning families and neighbors who are still learning how to grapple with the tragedy that hit their tight-knit community.

“It's a real tough situation. I'm just trying to show the kids that they do have us as their backbone and a support system,” Hernandez said. “We always provide, whether there is an incident or no incident.”

But in between cooking for impacted families and taking time to grieve for his community, Hernandez says he worries about the future of Uvalde. 

When will the children — and parents — in the community be able to heal from a massacre no one could ever imagined, he asks? He worries the answer is never. 

Despite these fears, his focus now is doing everything in his power to offer a helping hand — or in this case, a platter of delicious food — to bring some joy to his community.

“Showing the families we care is what we do. I want them to remember how we joined in at the time of need,” Hernandez said.

5:37 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Texas Senate Democratic Caucus sends letter to Abbott demanding special session on gun violence

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Texas Governor Greg Abbott arrives at a makeshift memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott arrives at a makeshift memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter on Saturday to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to call an emergency special legislative session to address gun violence in the state.

“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa. After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now,” the letter signed by 13 state Democratic caucus members said. 

The caucus said they “demand that this special session include passage of legislation that would:

  • Raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21;
  • Require universal background checks for all firearm sales;
  • Implement “red flag” laws to allow the temporary removal of firearms from those who are an imminent danger to themselves or others;
  • Require a “cooling off” period for the purchase of a firearm; and
  • Regulate civilian ownership of high capacity magazines.”

The letter went on to say, “We need evidence-based, common sense gun safety laws. Without a doubt, if at least some of the measures noted above had been passed since 2018, then many lives could have been saved.”

The caucus said they are not looking to take away the Second Amendment, but action is required in order to prevent another tragedy. 

“Guns should not be easier to access than health insurance, baby formula, voting, books and enlisting in the military. We are not trying to take away Second Amendment rights. Instead, we are asking for reasonable laws or restrictions that will create a safer Texas for all of us. Taking action requires bravery. The proposed solutions are not new. We cannot wait for another tragedy to occur. Texas has the power to protect its people; it is time we do so.”

Saying “the status quo is unacceptable,” Abbott said Friday that the state will consider new legislation in response to the deadly shooting in Uvalde. “Do we expect laws to come out of this devastating crime? The answer is absolutely yes, and there will be laws in multiple different subject areas."

CNN has reached out to Abbott’s office seeking a statement on the letter.

5:06 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

How Uvalde's library is helping its community heal through books, story time and self-care

From CNN's Alaa Elassar in Uvalde

(Alaa Elassar/CNN)
(Alaa Elassar/CNN)

When tragedy strikes, not everyone thinks about going to the library for comfort. But in Uvalde, El Progreso Memorial Library has become a place of healing.

Days after the shooting, in between aisles upon aisles of biographies, memoirs and novels that take readers on a journey away from reality, a child wearing a maroon shirt is seen holding hands with her mom as they scan books about grief. 

Before the shooting, the library was simply a place to read.

Today, it is “a quiet place of refuge,” the library wrote on Facebook, where families can turn to books on mourning, hope and guidance to find their way around this tragedy.

“We want our building to be a safe space, a refuge that is a quiet, calm and cool haven,” El Progreso Memorial Library director Mendell Morgan told CNN. “This is a small, rural town with a strong Hispanic flavor. Family is key in this culture so the heinous act has impacted an enormous number of people in Uvalde and far beyond.”

On Wednesday, just a day after the shooting, children’s librarian Martha Carreon sat in front of rows of little faces, reading, singing and giggling with the children, taking them away to a safe place much unlike the school where many of them became witness to horror.

Although a few days have passed since, Morgan says everyone is still processing what took place.

“We are still in shock,” she said. “First, time is needed to allow all of us to recover from the shock, face the reality of the aftermath, and find positive ways to move forward.”

Now the library sits still, a place of utter calm in the center of a town still buzzing with the sounds of grief. While nearly every block in Uvalde is scattered with mourners crowding around memorials and strangers sharing kindness in all its forms, the library welcomes those who just need a moment to breathe.

A young woman sits on the floor, her back against a shelf where she is camouflaged within a sea of books. She journals, her fingers moving gracefully but fervently as she fills up every line. No sound comes from her except the gentle murmur of her pen meeting the page -- it is a private ritual between her and her thoughts alone.

(Alaa Elassar/CNN)
(Alaa Elassar/CNN)

This haven for peace and quiet is also the place to find joy and laughter, which should be more common in the upcoming summer weeks. One of the positive ways the library will help the community heal is by using donations to establish "Los Angelitos de Robb Memorial Book Fund," which will be used to buy resources in print and non-print, puzzles, games, toys and equipment for the children, Morgan said.

The library will also bring guests to join them during story time, including the Miniwonders Equine Therapy of Georgetown, a nonprofit organization that uses trained therapy miniature horses to help victims of trauma. The group will hand out stuffed animals and toys and bring their miniature horses and bunny rabbits for the children to play with.

Along with psychologists who will be available every weekday for children and adults to talk to, there will also be massage therapy practitioners, volunteers for arts and craft activities, pianists to play soothing music, and even magicians to hold professional magic shows.

“One takeaway is that this is a strong community where we have true care and concern for one another,” Morgan said. “Many, if not most here, hold fast to their faith believing in God, that good is stronger than evil and light is stronger than dark.”

3:45 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

University Hospital reports improvement in the condition of the Uvalde shooter's grandmother

From CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn

University Hospital San Antonio posted an update on Twitter on Sunday afternoon on the three patients they’re still treating from the shooting at Robb Elementary school.

According to their tweet, University Hospital is still treating a 66-year-old woman in fair condition, a 10-year-old girl in serious condition and a 9-year-old girl in good condition.

In the initial days following the shooting, the hospital listed the 66-year-old as in serious condition, according to CNN’s reporting.

The 66-year-old woman being treated is the shooter’s grandmother, officials confirmed Wednesday.

 

3:09 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

The Bidens are meeting with families of survivors and victims of the Uvalde shooting

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Joe Biden’s motorcade arrived at 1:39 p.m., local time, at Uvalde County Arena, where the Bidens are meeting with survivors and family members of the shooting, according to a pool report.

The meeting is closed to the press. There are more than 3 hours of time scheduled for the meeting.

2:45 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Bidens attend bilingual Mass in Uvalde after visiting school memorial site

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, May 29.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, May 29. (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a bilingual Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with approximately 600 people about a mile away from the site of last week's deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The first lady greeted a few parishioners seated along the aisle of the church, according to the pool reporter inside the church.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, the celebrant, opened the Mass by observing, "Our hearts are broken." 

“In the midst of collapse and devastation, we have come once more to this our house. To pray. And be together,” one of the other service leaders said before the service.

Another service leader began Mass by speaking of the hardships of recent times — a pandemic, poverty — and now this.

“Mr. President has a very good understanding of what is happening now, here. And we are very gracious of his spirit,” he added.

The choir sang “On Eagle’s Wings” during the service. Biden has said the hymn was a favorite of his late son Beau Biden, who died seven years ago Monday at the age of 46 after battling brain cancer.

As the Bidens left Mass at 1:28 p.m., local time, he walked over to a group of demonstrators calling for him to "do something."

"We will," he told them, according to pool reporters.

They then departed for a meeting with the families of the victims and survivors of Tuesday's shooting.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, May 29.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, May 29. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

CNN's Donald Judd contributed to this report.