A gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting for nearly a decade, prompting President Joe Biden to urge Americans to confront the country’s gun lobby and pressure Congress to tighten gun laws.
Authorities said Salvador Ramos, 18, on Tuesday shot his grandmother, who survived, before fleeing and crashing his car near Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 21 people before being killed, apparently shot by police.
Officers saw the gunman, clad in body armor, emerge from the crashed vehicle carrying a rifle.
They said he acted alone; the motive was unclear.
In a televised speech Biden, his voice rising to a crescendo said: “As a nation, we have to ask when in God’s name we’re going to stand up to the gun lobby when in God’s name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done.”
A Democrat, Biden accused the gun lobby of blocking the enactment of tougher firearm safety laws.
He ordered flags flown at half-staff daily until sunset on Saturday in observance of the tragedy.
“I am sick and tired of it. We have to act,” he said without going into specifics.
Mass shootings have frequently led to public protests and calls for stricter background checks on gun sales and other firearm controls common in other countries, but such measures repeatedly fail in the face of strong Republican-led opposition.
The school houses second, third and fourth-grade children, meaning pupils would likely have ranged in age from 7 to 10.
“My heart is broken today. We’re a small community and we need your prayers to get us through this,” school district superintendent Hal Harrell told reporters late in the day, his voice quaking with emotion.
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