May 29, 2022 Texas shooting news

By Aya Elamroussi, Kelly McCleary and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:11 PM ET, Sun May 29, 2022
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1:46 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Justice Department to review police response to Uvalde school shooting

From CNN’s Paula Reid

A memorial sits outside Robb Elementary School on Saturday, May 28, in Uvalde, Texas.
A memorial sits outside Robb Elementary School on Saturday, May 28, in Uvalde, Texas. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The Justice Department announced Sunday it will conduct a review of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“At the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, the U.S. Department of Justice will conduct a Critical Incident Review of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.

The review is a significant development as Texas officials and law enforcement have been under intense scrutiny for the way officers responded to the shooting. 

The massacre, America's deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012, has been followed by conflicting official accounts of how it unfolded. The delayed police confrontation with the mass shooter has compounded parents' anger, with some saying a quicker response could have saved children's lives.

“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events. The review will be conducted with the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing,” Conley said. “As with prior Justice Department after-action reviews of mass shootings and other critical incidents, this assessment will be fair, transparent, and independent. The Justice Department will publish a report with its findings at the conclusion of its review.”

 

1:40 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

President Biden, first lady pay respects at Robb Elementary memorial site

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

President Joe Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School, as he and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects on May 29 in Uvalde, Texas.
President Joe Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School, as he and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects on May 29 in Uvalde, Texas. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden laid a bouquet of flowers at the memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The Bidens were greeted by applause from onlookers, and spoke with Dr. Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde County Independent School District and Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School.

CNN’s Arlette Saenz, on the ground in Uvalde, reported that some onlookers began shouting at Governor Greg Abbott as he approached the memorial. “Please Governor Abbott help Uvalde county,” Ben Gonzales, a 35-year-old Uvalde resident, shouted. “We need change. Our children don’t deserve this.”

As Biden departed the memorial, he shouted the same plea to the President, “President Biden, we need help! We need help, President Biden!”

The President and the first lady took several minutes looking at the photos of the 19 students and two adults who lost their lives in the shooting.

12:36 p.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Biden hopes to offer "small piece of comfort" during Uvalde trip, adviser says

From CNN's Arlette Saenz in Uvalde

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden has arrived in Uvalde, Texas, with the difficult task of offering solace and comfort to a community reeling from the horrific shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers last week.

“He hopes to convey empathy and understanding of what an impossibly horrible moment this is for them,” one adviser traveling with the President today says. “He hopes to offer some small piece of comfort, if that is possible.”

The president and first lady Jill Biden’s first stop will be at the memorial at Robb Elementary School. Throughout the morning, community members - adults, young children - have come to lay flowers and stuffed animals at the site. A family moments ago was seen kneeling in prayer in front of the crosses representing the 21 lives lost here Tuesday. Dozens of onlookers have gathered near the barricades ahead of the president’s anticipated arrival.

Following his stop at the elementary school, the President will attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church - his traditional Sunday practice, but one that takes on additional meaning as he celebrates Mass with the grief stricken community. He’ll then meet privately with the victims’ families and later first responders. The White House has allotted several hours for the President and First Lady to spend with the families

In addition to the horrific events that unfolded here in Uvalde, this weekend is one of personal significance for the Biden family as well. Monday marks seven years since the President's son, Beau Biden, passed away from cancer - a loss the President has often pointed to as he’s sought to connect with grieving families.

11:35 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Florida Democratic congresswoman calls for FBI investigation into how law enforcement responded in Uvalde

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Rep. Val Demings speaks in Washington, DC on January 6.
Rep. Val Demings speaks in Washington, DC on January 6. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., and a candidate for Senate, told CBS’s Margaret Brennan this morning the Senate must act on background checks and red flag laws. "I believe that those are two pieces of legislation that have overwhelming public support. We can get it done if the Senate has the political will to do it," she said.

She acknowledged hardening school security is important, but emphasized mass shootings happen outside of school as well. "I think we also should look at school safety every day. I think there should always be an assessment as technology has changed. We need to use the best, the most state-of-the-art technology," she said.

"But, Margaret, our children are not in school 24 hours a day. So certainly, let's make sure we make our schools secure, let's make sure we try to eliminate the human error factor. But what about churches? What about synagogues? What about grocery stores? What about movie theaters? We've got to do a job of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. There again, the Senate can take action on that."

Speaking from her own experience as a former police chief, Demings noted the officers on the ground broke active shooter protocol in Uvalde. "We all know, post-Columbine, there is no time to waste, that the officers on that scene are expected to go into those active shooter situations," said Demings.

She then called for the FBI to engage in a formal investigation of how law enforcement handled the scene. "We must, Margaret, demand an investigation and I believe the FBI, I mean, that would be my vote for a federal investigation. But I do believe since there were so many agencies involved on the ground, it's important that we know what role every agency played," said Demings.

11:30 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive in Texas

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden step off Air Force One upon arrival at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, on May 29.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden step off Air Force One upon arrival at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, on May 29. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden have landed at Kelly Field Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

From there, they will board Marine One to Uvalde, Texas.

11:18 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Texas Republican rejects gun reform proposals in the wake of Uvalde shooting

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Rep. Dan Crenshaw speaks during a news conference on December 2, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw speaks during a news conference on December 2, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, rejected many of the proposals for gun reform, including background checks, red flag laws, and changes to age restrictions, before advocating for greater security in schools.

While Crenshaw did acknowledge updates to the background check law could be helpful, he said he still does not support universal background checks.

"This may be something we could agree on is improving our background check system because, look, again, he went through a background check. So the problem isn't that a red flag law could have solved this, it doesn't seem clear that would have happened," said Crenshaw. "The problem is that the background check didn't capture the full story of this person."

Crenshaw argued universal background checks would be unrealistic.

"People have to understand what universal background checks, that means that I can no longer sell a gun to my friend," he said, adding "The people who are least likely to adhere to universal background check are the criminals who intend harm, so I again, it's an outcome problem."

Crenshaw said red-flag laws should be up to the states, but he would not support it in Texas. "What you’re essentially trying to do with the red flag law is enforce the law before the law has been broken. And it's a really difficult thing to do, it’s difficult to assess whether somebody is a threat," he noted. "Now if they are such a threat that they're threatening somebody with a weapon already, well, then they've already broken the law. So why do you need this other law?"

He argued changing the age limit on buying a gun to 21 would be a slippery slope. "You know, what happens then when we see a 22-year-old commit an atrocity? Are we going to raise it again? And are we going to raise it again? And at a certain point we have to ask ourselves where a limiting principle is."

The one proposal he seemed open to had nothing to do with restricting access to guns. "I think what needs to change is the things that would have the most immediate and succinct effect, or tangible effect on these things. And that's actual security at a school," he said.

Pressed by Bash on whether security and gun reform are mutually exclusive to him, Crenshaw said greater gun control "probably wouldn’t have the outcome that you’re looking for," and would "infringe on the rights of millions," whereas additional security would be "fairly easy to afford."

However, he acknowledged earlier in the interview law enforcement on the scene did not follow protocol and aid students. "Now, I know better than most not to necessarily judge the person who's walking through the breach, and is in that moment, in the arena. But it does seem clear that protocols were not followed."

"You have to put away your sense of self-preservation and go through that door. The training clearly states you might get shot, but the guy behind you might be able to get in and save innocent people. You have to put them before you. It doesn't appear that happened here."

11:15 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Republican congressman says he's 'open' to an AR-15 ban

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks during a Select Committee investigation in Washington, DC, on July 27. 
Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks during a Select Committee investigation in Washington, DC, on July 27.  (Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Sunday he would be open to a ban on AR-15 guns, depending on "what it looks like," in a major shift for a Republican lawmaker who was previously against a ban, in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

"Look, I have opposed a ban. You know, fairly recently. I think I'm open to a ban now. It's gonna depend on what it looks like because there's a lot of nuances on what constitutes you know certain things, but I'm getting to the point where I have to wonder maybe it's maybe somebody to own one," Kinzinger told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union.

He added maybe what is just required is an "extra license," or "extra training," in the moment, deliberating on whether it would be a ban or additional certifications, but either way Kinzinger said it was up to those who support the Second Amendment to also be adding solutions to the discussion.

"We have to be coming to the table with ways to mitigate 18-year-olds buying these guns and walking into schools, my side's not doing that," Kinzinger said. "My side is not coming forward with reasonable ways to defend an amendment that we think is very important. And so I'm looking at this going, 'Fine, if people are going to put forward solutions about certifying maybe who can buy an assault weapon. I'm certainly open to that.' "

Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who announced last year he would not be running again, now supports an assortment of gun control measures like universal backgrounds, red flag laws, and raising the age for those who want to buy high-capacity magazines. He said his thinking on the topic, after being against such measures, evolved after the horrific 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

And the GOP representative slammed others in his party who he says believe similar things, but do not speak up out of fear of retribution.

"It's just the right thing to do," he said about some gun control measures. "The problem is everybody is scared to inaction. They're frightened of the loudest voices and 90% of Americans are begging that we do something."

He derided the "cultist," or "tribal," groupthink stopping those from coming out to do what’s right, whether it is about Donald Trump, the insurrection or guns.

"If you look at this shooting, you look at, you look at Buffalo, you look at Parkland, and all these others, there are people taking these guns, these ARs under the age of 21. Can we stop all of it? No. Can we mitigate it? Certainly. And we should be doing that now," he told Bash.

Kinzinger shot down ideas floated by Texas leaders like Greg Abbott or Ted Cruz to focus more attention on mental health or limit the number of doors in a school building to prevent mass shootings, saying thought it is a "heart issue," in which people have to make the conscious decision to commit such an act. Limiting the number of exits, he said, would not work but would turn schools into "military camps," which is not the way forward.

"All these people, these politicians that are scared of death to talk about the gun issue. They know that this is an issue, but they're scared to talk about it," he said, so they choose to talk about mental health or arming others to protect children instead that ultimately fail to do exactly that. "We’ve got to take handle of this man, this is insane."

11:13 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Texas state senator says law enforcement delay may have cost lives at Robb Elementary School

From CNN's Tina Burnside 

Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks with reporters on May 27, in Uvalde, Texas.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks with reporters on May 27, in Uvalde, Texas. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said the mistakes made by law enforcement during the shooting at Robb Elementary may have "led to the passing away of these children."

CNN previously reported while the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was inside adjoining classrooms, a group of 19 law enforcement officers stood outside the classroom in the school for roughly 50 minutes as they waited for room keys and tactical equipment.

"It's not fair to put it on the local ISD cop. At the end of the day, everybody failed here. We failed these children. We even failed them in the Texas Legislature," Gutierrez said.

 

10:36 a.m. ET, May 29, 2022

Democratic senators are tentatively hopeful on bipartisan gun violence negotiations

From CNN's Nicky Robertson 

Democratic senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., appeared hopeful Congress may be able to work in a bipartisan manner to reduce gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas this week.

"I really do think that there is real urgency that we can show that we can act. I am confident if we get a bill on the floor on the fun issues and can pass it, it will be the right signal to the American people," Cardin said on Fox News Sunday.

Similarly, Booker echoed the tentative optimism in an interview on NBC Meet the Press, "I’m under no illusion that we’re going to do the things that need to be done, that the majority of Americans overwhelming support Republican and Democrat that can support significant safety."

The Senator from Maryland questioned what it would say about Congress if the Senate is unable to even bring a gun violence bill to the floor.

"We hope that these bipartisan negotiations will lead to a critical mass of Republicans that will be able to deliver at least 10 votes so that we can have a debate on the floor of the United States Senate," Cardin said, "If we can’t even get a bill on the floor to debate, where are we?"

Both Senators made it clear if a bipartisan agreement is made it would not go as far in preventing gun violence as Democrats would want it to.

"It probably won't go as far as I would like to see it go, but it will at least show that Congress can act," Cardin told Fox’s Sandra Smith.

Booker said a greater social mobilization is needed for more significant change, but stated "whatever we can get done if it saves a life it's worth doing."

Earlier this week White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters President Joe Biden’s administration will look into executive actions to limit gun violence, but "right now we need the help of Congress. We need them to step in."

Cardin added the President has been engaging in the Senate negotiations and "will continue to do that."