Beto O’Rourke interrupted a news conference given by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to protest inaction to mass shooting incidents, accusing state leaders of “doing nothing” to address gun violence.
O’Rourke, who is trying to unseat Abbott in November’s election, initially was identified as a “protester” on CNN’s cable news chyron’s before it became apparent who he was.
“You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable,” O’Rourke said, at times pointing his finger at the governor, hammering Abbott for “doing nothing.” Don McLaughlin, the mayor of Uvalde, shouted at O’Rourke, “Sir, you are out of line. Please leave this auditorium.”
McLaughlin continued to shout at O’Rourke, telling him, “I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.”
O’Rourke was then escorted out of the auditorium by authorities, as photographers followed him.
"It's on you."
— The Recount (@therecount) May 25, 2022
O’Rourke told reporters afterward, “We owe those parents action,” adding, “If we continue to accept this, it is on us. It is not just the governor’s fault.”
The shooter murdered 19 students and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, the latest incidence of the epidemic of gun violence that has gripped the U.S. for decades. The response to the horrific massacre also has further exposed the country’s divisions. While one man at Abbott’s press conference scolded O’Rourke to not politicize the situation, the Texas Democrat’s response is indicative of a feeling that the time has long passed to merely respond to shooting massacres with expressions of thoughts and prayers.
“This is the only time that we are all focused on what just happened,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the only time to call for the action that we need that is going to prevent this from happening again, and I know that there are a majority of us, of good conscience and of good will in the state of Texas, of all political parties, of all backgrounds, who want to do the right thing.”
CBS News’ Janet Shamlian, who was in the press conference, said during the network’s coverage, “There were two people across the aisle from me and a moment before the press conference started, they got up from their seats when Beto walked in, so they were seat holders for him and then, he sat down. His presence wasn’t really noticed in the 15 or 20 minutes that people were gathering inside, because he was not in the room, so this seems something very clearly staged by Beto O’Rourke wanting to confront the governor at this moment.”
At his press conference, Abbott called the shooting “intolerable” and said that “it was unacceptable for us to have anybody in the state who would kill kids in our schools.”
“To say the least Uvalde has been shaken to its core. Families are broken apart. Hearts are forever shattered. All Texans are grieving with the people of Uvalde, and people are rightfully angry about what has happened.” He said that “our job is to ensure that the community is not going to be ripped apart….What they need now more than ever is our love.”
Since he has taken office, Abbott has backed measures to loosen gun laws.
Abbott said that the gunman posted messages on Facebook before the shooting, including one where he said he was going to shoot his grandmother, another to say that he shot her and another to say that he planned carnage at an elementary school. A Facebook spokesperson said that the messages “were private one-to-one text messages that were discovered after the terrible tragedy occurred. We are closely cooperating with law enforcement in their ongoing investigation.”
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, there was an increased presence of Los Angeles Police officers in and around schools.
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