Families waited in near silence Tuesday afternoon at a civic center in Uvalde, Texas, to learn whether they'd lost a child in the shooting at Robb Elementary School. Some of them sat outside, appearing stunned, the Washington Post reports, staring blankly. Border Patrol agents ringed the site, which was to have been used for voting in a primary runoff Tuesday. One man reached by phone said his nephew is a student at the school but was not injured. But Rey Chapa, 42, was waiting to hear about other children and checking social media for news about them, per the New York Times. "I'm afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed," he said.
President Biden planned to address the nation about the shooting at 8:15pm EDT, aides said, adding that he had talked to Gov. Greg Abbott to offer assistance, per the AP. Members of Congress issued statements of mourning. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "horrified and heartbroken" by the crime but suggested no changes in law or policy. GOP Sen. Susan Collins called for "red flag laws" intended to keep weapons away from violent people. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin urged "common sense" changes to curb mass shootings. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 killed more than two dozen people, spoke emotionally in the Senate, per CBS News. "I am here on this floor to beg—to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues" to do something, Murphy said.
Sen. Ted Cruz called it "a dark day" in a statement but suggested no action. The Texas Republican is scheduled to speak Friday at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Houston. Biden ordered flags on federal buildings lowered "as a mark of respect for the victims." In Uvalde, Ryan Ramirez could not find his daughter, a fourth grader, at the school or the reunification location. "Nobody’s telling me anything,” he told KSAT in San Antonio, adding, "I'm trying to find out where my baby's at." A witness who rushed to the school after hearing gunshots said he saw a little girl "full of blood" and parents screaming. "They were just little kids," Derek Sotelo said. "They didn’t mean no harm." (Read more school shooting stories.)