La Gaceta De Mexico - Biden arrives in Texas school massacre town

Biden arrives in Texas school massacre town

Biden arrives in Texas school massacre town

US President Joe Biden arrived Sunday in Uvalde to console residents mourning 19 children and two teachers who were gunned down at an elementary school in the small Texas town.

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Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were to visit a memorial outside the school and attend a Catholic Mass, as well as meet with first responders and mourning relatives of the dead.

Harrowing accounts emerged of the ordeal faced by survivors of Tuesday's attack, as Biden called for action to prevent future massacres in a country where efforts to tighten firearms regulations have repeatedly failed.

"We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer. We can finally do what we have to do to protect the lives of the people and of our children," Biden said Saturday in a speech at the University of Delaware.

As residents gathered in a central square in Uvalde over the weekend to pay homage to the victims, haunting stories emerged of students who played dead while the teen gunman sprayed bullets and police held back from storming in to the rescue.

Ten-year-old Samuel Salinas was sitting in his fourth-grade classroom when the shooter, later identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, barged in with a chilling announcement: "You're all going to die."

Then "he just started shooting," Salinas told ABC News.

Texas authorities admitted Friday that as many as 19 police officers were in the school hallway for nearly an hour without breaching the room where the shooter was, thinking he had ended his killing. Officials called this delay the "wrong decision."

Ramos was finally killed by police.

Survivors of the attack have described making desperate, whispered pleas for help in 911 phone calls during his assault. Some played dead to avoid drawing the shooter's attention.

Eleven-year-old Miah Cerrillo even smeared the blood of a dead friend on herself as she feigned death.

- 'Don't move' -

Salinas said he thinks Ramos fired at him, but the bullet struck a chair, sending shrapnel into the boy's leg. "I played dead so he wouldn't shoot me," he said.

Another student, Daniel, whose mother would not provide his last name, said he saw Ramos fire through the glass in the classroom door, striking his teacher.

The bullets were "hot," he told The Washington Post, and when another bullet ricocheted and struck a fellow student in the nose, he said he could hear the sickening sound it made.

Though his teacher lay on the floor bleeding, she repeatedly told the students, "'Stay calm. Stay where you are. Don't move,'" Daniel recalled.

He was finally rescued by police who broke the windows of his classroom. Since then, he has had recurrent nightmares.

A makeshift memorial has sprung up at Uvalde's courthouse square.

Twenty-one simple white crosses have been erected around a fountain -- one for each victim. And people have left growing piles of stuffed animals and flowers, as well as heart-rending messages: "Love you" and "You will be missed."

Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday attended the funeral of a victim of another recent mass shooting -- Ruth Whitfield, who was among 10 people killed when a self-described white supremacist opened fire in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14.

- 'Have the courage' -

She also urged US lawmakers to take action on guns.

"Congress must have the courage to stand up, once and for all, to the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws," Harris tweeted.

The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest school attack since 20 children and six staff were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.

Despite years of growing paralysis on the issue in Congress, Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said Sunday there were "serious negotiations" on getting approval for some new gun control measures.