WATCH | Biden prays and lays a wreath in Texas school massacre town

  • President Joe Biden and his wife Jill visited a memorial outside Robb Elementary School where 19 children and two teachers were killed.
  • An armed teenager stormed the elementary school and started shooting.
  • Biden urged U.S. lawmakers to take action to limit access to guns.

US President Joe Biden laid flowers and prayed at the makeshift shrine erected in Uvalde on Sunday for the 19 children and two teachers murdered by a gun-toting teenager after he stormed their elementary school.

Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill Biden, was in the small Texas town less than two weeks after making a similar trip to the site of another mass shooting – this time targeting African Americans in a racist attack – in Buffalo, New York.

Both dressed in black, the first couple held hands in front of a memorial outside Robb Elementary School and walked slowly along the thicket of wreaths, bouquets, white crosses and enlarged photos of the children killed. Biden made the sign of the cross.

Resuming the increasingly familiar role of national mourning leader, Biden then attended a Catholic mass, as well as meeting privately with first responders and grieving relatives of the dead.

Applause erupted from a crowd gathered at the school as the Bidens’ motorcade arrived. However, illustrating the tension in the city following the massacre, there were boos as Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott appeared.

“We need changes,” one man shouted.

Biden was not expected to speak publicly in Texas, but on Saturday he renewed his call for Congress to overcome years of paralysis to toughen gun regulations.

“We can’t ban tragedy, I know that, but we can make America safer. We can finally do what we need to do to protect the lives of people and our children,” Biden said in a speech. at the University of Delaware.

– Play dead –

Heartbreaking accounts have emerged of the ordeal endured by survivors of Tuesday’s attack, where police behavior has come under intense scrutiny.

Samuel Salinas, 10, was sitting in his fifth grade class when the shooter, later identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, burst in and announced, “You’re all going to die.”

Then “he just started shooting,” Salinas told ABC News.

Texas authorities admitted on Friday that as many as 19 police officers were in the hallway of the school for nearly an hour before finally entering the room and killing Ramos, saying officers mistakenly believed he had stopped killing and was now barricaded.

Officials are now calling the delay a ‘bad decision’ but parents have expressed their fury.

Survivors describe making desperate, whispered pleas for help in 911 phone calls during the long assault, while some played dead to avoid drawing the attention of the shooter.

Eleven-year-old Miah Cerrillo even smeared herself with the blood of a deceased friend while faking death.

– ‘Not moving’ –

Salinas said he thought Ramos shot him, but the bullet hit a chair, sending shrapnel into the boy’s leg. “I played dead so he wouldn’t shoot me,” he said.

Another student, Daniel, whose mother did not give his last name, said he saw Ramos shoot through the glass of the classroom door, hitting his teacher.

The bullets were ‘hot’, he told The Washington Post, and when another bullet ricocheted and hit a classmate in the nose, he said he could hear the sickening sound it made .

Although her teacher lay on the floor bleeding, she repeatedly told the students, “‘Keep calm. Stay where you are. Don’t move,'” Daniel recalled.

He was eventually rescued by the police who smashed the windows in his classroom. Since then, he has had recurring nightmares.

A man prays in front of a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Ima

Vice President Kamala Harris attended the funeral on Saturday of a Buffalo shooting victim – Ruth Whitfield, who was among 10 people killed on May 14, allegedly by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.

– ‘Have the courage’ –

Like Biden, she urged U.S. lawmakers to take action to limit access to guns.

“Congress must have the courage to once and for all stand up to the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws,” Harris tweeted.

The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest school attack since 20 children and six staff members were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.

But despite the epidemic of mass shootings and the ever-increasing flood of private gun purchases, Congress has repeatedly failed to agree on possible new regulations.

This time could be different, say some lawmakers.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said Sunday that “serious negotiations” were underway involving members of both parties.

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