By Mihajla Milovanovic and Nora Dahl
UVALDE, TX – In response to the school shooting this week here that left 21 dead, including 19 children, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other officials held a press conference Thursday addressing the tragic event.
But they were interrupted by former representative and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who yelled from in front of the stage that little is being done to resolve the easy access to guns throughout the state of Texas and the nation as a whole.
O’Rourke was promptly escorted out of the auditorium. O’Rourke had just won the Democratic primary for governor on Tuesday.
After he was escorted out, Abbott continued his speech to state that “we need to focus on the healing and hope that we are providing to those who suffered unconscionable damage to their lives.”
The current governor added the possession of firearms by 18-year-olds is not the real issue driving these shootings, but rather—the GOP mantra in opposition to gun control, according to O’Rourke—mental health.
In addition to O’Rourke being escorted out, he began his own press conference outside of the building, explaining Abbott’s failed expansion of Medicaid and support of gun safe-storage laws that could have prevented this event.
With great anger and passion, O’Rourke stressed that “the gunman who just turned 18, bought an AR-15 and took it into an elementary school and shot kids in the face and killed them.”
After addressing the issue of the 18-year-old being in possession of a gun, O’Rourke said that, if he is elected, he would do something to stop gun killings, that he is not alone, and that the majority of people in Texas stand with him.
O’Rourke added, “We just can’t accept this theater or business as usual, and accept the next shooting. We could have stopped this if we had stood up after Santa Fe High School, if we had stood up after El Paso…We are going to stop the next one. We’re standing up right here in Uvalde, Texas, right now. That’s why I’m here.”
Before O’Rourke’s outburst, Abbott stated the alleged gunman, Salvador Ramos, was 18 years old and fired an AR-15 weapon loaded with .223 ammunition.
He said the suspect looked to have no criminal record as an adult; authorities are checking his juvenile record. Abbott also said there was no proof that the suspect had ever received mental health treatment, noting that “there was no meaningful forewarning of this crime.”
He claimed Ramos’ only warning came in a direct message he sent to his grandmother on Facebook around 30 minutes before he allegedly shot her at her house. “I’m going to shoot my grandmother,” the suspect wrote to an individual or individuals whose names were not revealed, according to Abbott.
The grandmother, who is in serious condition at the hospital, contacted 911 to report being shot.
Ramos reportedly sent another direct message a few minutes after the first, purportedly stating, “I shot my grandmother.”
According to the governor, the suspect posted another Facebook direct message approximately 14 minutes before the incident at Robb Elementary School, stating, “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”
Three law enforcement officers were injured when the suspect crashed his car outside the school and reportedly opened fire on them before entering the school.
Abbott added one of the parents who lost a daughter in the incident was a deputy sheriff.
“It could’ve been a lot worse. Because law enforcement officers performed their job, it didn’t go any worse,” Abbott said, praising officers who stormed the school and shot the shooter dead before he could kill more people.