Southland officials reacted with horror, anger and renewed calls for tougher gun control Tuesday as news spread of the latest mass shooting in the United States — this one at a Texas elementary school where at least 19 students and two adults were killed.
“Our hearts are breaking. I’m sick of this,” Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted following Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 85 miles west of San Antonio.
“We can’t keep losing innocent children because we’re incapable of doing what’s right,” Garcetti added. “We can’t stall on gun control any longer. How much sorrow before stopping these acts of senseless violence?”
As many officials nationwide echoed somewhat vague calls for curtailing firearm ownership and gun violence, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer noted the need for better mental health care and focus on individuals suffering from mental disorders that lead to mass shootings and other violent acts.
“Congress must take immediate action to address the serious mental health needs of our nation, especially those who fit the well-documented profile of active shooters,” Spitzer said in a statement. “We need a strong unified federal response and we need it now. Our children and their childhoods depend on it.”
President Joe Biden learned of the mass shooting as he returned to Washington from a trip to Asia.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” Biden said in a nationally broadcast speech. “Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. …
“It’s time to turn this pain into action,” Biden said. “For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act.
“It’s time — for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget,” the president continued. “We can do so much more. We have to do more.”
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, wrote, “My heart breaks for the families of the victims in Uvalde, TX. We cannot continue to do nothing on gun reform and expect a different result. We must pass laws to stop these awful, preventable tragedies NOW.”
Tuesday’s horror took place around noon Texas time.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott initially confirmed that 14 students, along with a teacher, were killed when a single gunman struck. The number of students killed later rose to at least 19. The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.
According to reports, the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, allegedly shot his grandmother earlier in the day, then headed to the school, possibly carrying a handgun and a rifle.
In addition to those killed, roughly 15 other children and two adults were injured in the shooting, according to various reports. The gunman was killed by police.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said there were “no adequate words” to describe the mass shooting.
“While we believe this is an isolated incident, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center is monitoring the situation, and we will have an increased presence at schools in our jurisdiction tomorrow (Wednesday),” Barnes said. “No parent should ever have to wonder if their child is safe at school. We extend our condolences and prayers to the grieving community of Uvalde.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his agency would be working with “school resource officers to ensure the safety of our children.”
The Los Angeles Police Department told City News Service it had no immediate announcement regarding any effort to bolster patrols around area campuses in response to the shooting. The Los Angeles Unified School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would take any additional measures.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and board President Kelly Gonez issued a joint statement saying, “Our hearts are with the victims of today’s school shooting. May they have the strength and resilience to endure this unacceptable tragedy. As a nation, we must continue to speak up against gun violence. We have a moral and professional collective obligation of ensuring a perimeter of inviolable safety around schools. Enough is enough.”
Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, said in a statement, “We grieve with the parents, guardians, educators, students, families and the Uvalde community. It saddens us that once again our world is rocked with the senseless death of students and an educator. Our schools should be the safest spaces to send our children. … Thoughts and prayers are not what’s needed. We need gun reform now.”
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block added, “Children should be able to go to school without the fear of violence. What happened today shakes me to my core.”
The Sacramento-based Gun Owners of California retweeted this statement from its partners at Gun Owners of America, “We mourn the innocent Texans murdered this afternoon. Sadly, we have already seen significant politicization of this tragedy for political gain by those on the left, including most alarmingly, in fundraising emails — but also in calls for gun control. Additionally, politicians who support the Second Amendment across the state and country are being made the subjects of unacceptable, vitriolic, ad-hominem attacks, and we stand in their defense.
“Instead of playing politics, we must discuss real solutions to preventing this type of evil from striking again, for example, by arming willing teachers which is a solution supported by 81% of police. If our elected officials are important enough to receive armed protection, so too should our children.”
The nation’s latest mass shooting came one day after Los Angeles elected officials, faith leaders and cultural leaders gathered at First AME Church of Los Angeles for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims killed in two racial- and hate-motivated mass shooting incidents in Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods last week.
The vigil was hosted by the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department and attended by Garcetti, councilmen Curren Price and Paul Koretz and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.
A candle was lit for each of the 11 victims killed during the two mass shootings: 10 in Buffalo on May 14 and one in Laguna Woods on May 15.
“Going to school. Going grocery shopping. Going to church. Going to the mall. My heart breaks for the families and community in Uvalde, Texas — and for all victims of gun violence,” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, tweeted following Tuesday’s school shooting. “We must do better. We must save lives. We must #EndGunViolence.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis echoed those thoughts, saying on Twitter, “My thoughts and prayers are with those whose loved ones were tragically lost and injured during the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School.
“Gun violence has devastated far too many communities including Uvalde, Texas today. When is enough, enough? #EndGunViolence NOW.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles and a candidate for mayor, said, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we said never again. Ten years later 1 teacher and 14 children are murdered in Texas. Republican inaction is killing our kids. They choose to look away. They choose to not act. We need reform now.”
Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso tweeted, “As a father, my heart absolutely breaks for the families in Texas tonight. No parent should ever have to endure such unbearable loss. We have to do better as a country.”
Mayoral candidate and LA City Councilman Kevin de León wrote, “I’m disgusted that this is normal in America. The worst part? We can prevent this. But Republicans in DC would rather watch our kids die than take action. We need national gun safety laws, and we need them now.”
Updated May 24, 2022, 10:36p.m.