On Wednesday, gubernatorial candidate Beto O’ Rourke confronted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans at a press conference about the Uvalde mass shooting that left at least 21 dead on Tuesday.
“This is on you,” O’Rourke can be heard saying.
O’Rourke was escorted out by police. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sen. Ted Cruz, Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan were also present at the conference.
Prior to the confrontation, Abbott said he’s working on addressing mental health in the Uvalde community despite the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, having no troubling mental health history reported yet. Ramos killed 19 elementary school-aged children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School before being shot and killed by authorities.
“We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health,” Abbott said. “Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period.”
According to Abbott, the gunman posted on Facebook 30 minutes before he reached the school “I’m going to shoot my grandmother. I’m going to shoot up a school,” he wrote in the post.
According to authorities, the gunman, Salvador Ramos, barricaded himself in one 4th grade classroom. For 30 minutes, chaos ensued, where officers tried busting windows and breaking down doors to free children from escaping the gunfire. Additionally, a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl remain in serious condition and 17 more are injured.
Ramos shot his grandmother in the face and crashed his car into a ditch where he ran out into the street and engaged with law enforcement. But he was still able to enter the school, open fire and kill the students, injuring two armed officers in the process.
Reports also said Ramos purchased two assault rifles legally after his 18th birthday and carried multiple magazines. A U.S. Customs and Border patrol officer shot and killed the shooter, according to Abbott.
No motive has been announced but the Uvalde school shooting marks the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. According to reports on Tuesday night, parents waiting for news on their children were asked to provide DNA swabs to identify victims.
Identical to the Buffalo shooting, Republicans, right-wing media, and enablers blame the attack on mental health and refuse to vote on the popular policy of universal background checks.
Moreover, in response to the Uvalde shooting, indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested arming teachers and educators instead of changing Texas legislation.
A permitless carry bill passed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2021 legislative session loosened gun restrictions in the state.
Yet, in light of this deadly tragedy, Sen. Ted Cruz, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are still expected to speak at a Houston National Rifle Association annual meeting in Houston, Texas, set for Friday, May 27, 2022.
During the press conference, Abbott also refused to say if he was still speaking at the NRA meeting on Friday. The governor attended a campaign fundraiser Tuesday night just hours after the massacre, but has canceled future events, according to his team.
“I’m living moment to moment right now,” Abbott said. “My heart, my head and my body.”
The National Rifle Association released a statement on Wednesday announcing they still plan to meet in Houston on Friday.
While suggesting building a mental health care facility, Abbott also dodged a question on stricter gun legislation citing other U.S. major cities.
“There are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago then there are in schools in Texas,” Abbott said. “And people who think that maybe if we implement tougher gun laws it’s going to solve it. Chicago, LA, and New York disprove that thesis.”
After being escorted out of the press conference, O’ Rourke went outside and called out Abbott on his inaction for his alleged mental health concerns.
According to Abbott, all 19 children have been identified and all families have been notified. Early Tuesday morning, parents attended an honor roll ceremony at Robb Elementary to celebrate their children’s achievements only to come back to a massacre and identify victims.
Community members, politicians, and gun violence prevention organizations are calling for the NRA meeting to be canceled or moved out of the state in light of the shooting.
On Wednesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is also resisting canceling the Friday NRA meeting.
“The city could face lawsuits if it backed out now,” Turner said.
Organizations and Houstonians are planning a protest in response for Friday and Saturday at George R. Brown.
Sen. John Cornyn canceled his appearance at the event due to a personal matter.
Original photo: Erik Drost / Wikimedia Commons