School shootings in the US have claimed the lives of 175 children and adults since 2008.
In the wake of the Texas shooting, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the Senate to take up the House-passed domestic terrorism prevention bill in a procedural vote set for later this morning, but acknowledged that it is unlikely to advance amid GOP opposition.
Schumer said that he is willing to give some time and space for efforts to reach some kind of bipartisan compromise on gun legislation – though he conceded that the odds are long.
He made clear that these efforts will not be given an unlimited amount of time to play out, and said that if they fail, then the Senate will move forward with votes on gun safety legislation. If that happens, those votes would be expected to fail again due to Republican opposition, but would give Democrats a chance to put lawmakers on record and criticize the GOP over gun control.
“This is not an invite to negotiate indefinitely. Make no mistake, if these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation,” he said.
On the domestic terrorism bill, Schumer said, “today the Senate will have a chance to act on a pernicious issue that has recently become an increasingly prevalent component in America’s gun violence epidemic – the evil spread of white supremacy and domestic terrorism.”
Schumer said if the domestic terrorism prevention bill moves forward, there could be a debate on broader gun safety-related amendments.
“There is an additional benefit to moving forward today – it’s a chance to have a larger debate and consider amendments for gun safety legislation in general, not just for those motivated by racism as vital as it is to do that. I know that many members on the other side hold views that are different than the views on this side of the aisle so let us move on this bill, let us proceed, and then they can bring them to the floor,” he said.
But he acknowledged that Republicans are expected to block the bill from advancing.
Schumer outlined what he is willing to allow in terms of bipartisan efforts to reach a compromise on gun control – and what will happen if they fail.
“If Republicans obstruct debate today, we are prepared to have an honest and realistic discussion, conversation, negotiation for a little more time to see what they can come to the table with," he said. "We are under no illusions that this will be easy. We have been burned in the past when Republicans promised to debate only for them to break their promise. But even with long odds, the issue is so important, so raw to the American people, so personal to countless families with missing children, that we must pursue that opportunity.”
Schumer said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy “has asked for space to see what progress can be done with Senate Republicans. Neither he nor I is under an illusion that this will be easy; it will not. But his view, my view and the overwhelming view of our caucus is we need to give it a short amount of time to try.”
Students and their families at Uvalde's Robb Elementary should've been celebrating the last day of school today before the summer break.
Instead, they are mourning the deaths of 19 children and two teachers who were shot to death by an 18-year-old gunman. Others remain hospitalized from their injuries.
Parents of some of the victims said they saw their kids hours before the shooting on Tuesday, lauding them for making the honor roll or receiving awards at an end-of-year ceremony.
One mother said her son “couldn’t wait to go to middle school.”
Now their families will have to start planning funerals as questions remain around the investigation.
Ubiquitous gun violence in the United States has left few places unscathed over the decades. Still, many Americans hold their right to bear arms, enshrined in the US Constitution, as sacrosanct. But critics of the Second Amendment say that right threatens another: The right to life.
America's relationship to gun ownership is unique, and its gun culture is a global outlier.
As the tally of gun-related deaths continue to grow daily, here's a look at how gun culture in the US compares to the rest of the world.
Authorities in Texas are working to "gather the facts" to establish a concrete timeline for the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez told CNN on Thursday.
Here's what we know and what questions remain about the massacre:
School resource officer was armed
Olivarez told CNN's John Berman that officials are "trying to establish and corroborate exactly what was that role" for the school resource officer when he encountered the gunman at the school.
Texas Rangers conducted an interview last night with the school resource officer, Olivarez said. The officer was armed at the time of the shooting, he said, but it's unclear if he fired his weapon.
Yesterday, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Erick Estrada said that the suspect dropped a bag full of ammunition outside of the school prior to entering.
School door was unlocked
The gunman was able to enter the school "unimpeded" by any locks, Olivarez said, and gunfire was exchanged inside the school hallway between the gunman and officers who were right behind him.
Those two officers were shot, and then the gunman barricaded himself inside a classroom, Olivarez said. Officials are still trying to determine exactly how he barricaded himself inside.
CNN previously reported that the gunman was on the school premises for up to an hour before law enforcement forcibly entered a classroom and killed him.
When asked why it took tactical teams so long to respond to the shooting, Olivarez said that they are working to establish an accurate timeline, which is part of the investigation.
"Right now, we do not have an accurate or a concrete timeline to provide to say 'the gunman was in the school for this period,' so we want want to obtain that factual information once we're able to attain that," the lieutenant said.
Parents seek answers
The father of a victim of the shooting told The Washington Post that he and other dads wanted to storm the elementary school to retrieve their children as they heard gunshots from inside. Video posted to social media appears to show frustrated and distraught parents and other adults outside the school clashing with law enforcement officers, urging the officers to go inside and get the gunman or let them go inside themselves.
"I can tell you right now, as a father myself, I would want to go in too. But it's a volatile situation. We have an active shooter situation. We're trying to preserve any further loss of life. ... We cannot have individuals going into that school, especially if they're not armed," Olivarez said.
Olivarez also said local authorities are working with the FBI to obtain surveillance video from the school.
The FBI is also doing cell phone forensics for the gunman to "establish or obtain information from the suspect's phone, if there was any social media posts that was posted, any other facts that would help the case in terms of as far as there were any indicators for this shooter leading up to this mass shooting," he said.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn is back at the Capitol today after spending yesterday in Texas meeting with grieving families and officials.
Cornyn recounted how “horrible” it was to see the community of Uvalde grieving. He also said that he is thinking through what could have been done or what could be changed to have stopped this shooting. He said this shooter was a “ticking time bomb” and troubled, but he said it is hard to know if enhanced background checks would have caught anything.
He also said he is going to meet today with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy to see what can be worked on. He said he and Murphy have met on and off for the last year on the issues around shootings and are going to try and resume some of their talks.
He said he doesn’t know if they can reach an agreement on background checks or other bills, but he did say “this hopefully will provide a new, greater sense of urgency.”
Murphy has been a proponent of gun reform, particularly since the Sandy Hook school shooting in his state. After the Uvalde shooting, he gave a speech on the Senate floor and pleaded for his fellow lawmakers to take action.
Dr. Lillian Liao, pediatric trauma medical director at University Hospital in San Antonio, told CNN that her hospital is currently treating three children injured in the Uvalde school shooting.
"They are critical but stable and will be continuing to receive care over the next days to weeks," she said.
"Broadly speaking ... we were treating destructive wounds, and what that means is that there were large areas of tissue missing from the body, and they required emergency surgery because there was significant blood loss," Liao told CNN's John Berman.
Liao blinked back tears as she described receiving the injured children.
She said that her unit had experience treating mass shooting victims from the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting, and they were able to prepare quickly for the Uvalde shooting patients.
But she said the hardest part was knowing that many of victims were likely already dead.
"And also from the last experience we realized that when we're dealing with high-velocity firearm injuries, we may not get a whole lot of patients. I think that's what has hit us the most, not of the patients that we did receive and we are honored to treat them, but the patients that we did not receive. I think that that is the most challenging aspect of our job right now," she said, wiping away tears.
But, she added, "our job as the trauma center is to be focused on treating the patients that we did receive, and that's what we're going to do today."
The hospital is also treating the gunman's grandmother, who officials say he shot in the face before fleeing their home and then getting into a crash near the school.
"She's critical but stable as well," Liao said.
Hear trauma surgeon here:
The father of a school shooting victim in Uvalde, Texas, told The Washington Post that he and others wanted to storm the elementary school to retrieve their children as they heard gunshots from inside.
Javier Cazares said he arrived at Robb Elementary soon after hearing something was going on at his daughter’s school, and he told the Post he was joined near the building’s front door by several other men who had children at the school.
“There were five or six of [us] fathers, hearing the gunshots, and [police officers] were telling us to move back,” Cazares told the newspaper. “We didn’t care about us. We wanted to storm the building. We were saying, ‘Let’s go’ because that is how worried we were, and we wanted to get our babies out.”
The Washington Post reported that hours later, Cazares learned his daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, 9, had been shot and killed.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, the gunman was in the school between 40 to 60 minutes before law enforcement forcibly entered and killed him.
Video posted to social media appears to show frustrated and distraught parents and other adults outside the school clashing with law enforcement officers, urging the officers to go inside and get the gunman or let them go inside themselves.
The gunman was in a standoff with law enforcement officers for about a half-hour after firing on students and teachers, Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN’s Jake Tapper, citing a briefing he was given.
"And then [the shooting] stops, and he barricades himself in. That's where there's kind of a lull in the action," Gonzales said. "All of it, I understand, lasted about an hour, but this is where there's kind of a 30-minute lull. They feel as if they've got him barricaded in. The rest of the students in the school are now leaving."
Justice of the Peace Lalo Diaz said that when he was called to the scene of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and told by officers that multiple children had been killed, his "heart dropped knowing that I was going to go in and have to assess a scene so horrific," he told CNN's John Berman outside the school on Thursday.
Because the county, which has less than 50,000 people, does not have a medical examiner, it was Diaz's job to process the dead.
When he went inside, he saw "something I never want to see again."
"It was unbelievable. I have children; I have an eighth-grader and a senior in high school and I know how precious life is, right? And these are our children in our community," Diaz said.
He recognized the body of Irma Garcia, a teacher at the school who had been a classmate of his.
Diaz attended the school, as did his children. He called it "a pillar of the community."
He said he never thought a mass shooting could occur in his town.
"We're a community of hunters, we see guns regularly, we see people loading up to go dove hunting or deer hunting, but never like this. Never to this caliber that you say we're going to have multiple homicides or whatever. Normally it happens in a case-by-case basis and it's rare. Never would I have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would have had to have gone and assess a site in that condition," he said.
Hear Uvalde justice of the peace here: