President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Arrive in Uvalde to Pay Respects to Victims of Mass Shooting

As the Bidens arrived in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, the Justice Department announced they will conduct a review of the police response to the elementary school massacre that killed 21

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greet Mandy Gutierrez, the Priciple of Robb Elementary School, as he and First Lady Jill Biden pay their in Uvalde, Texas on May 29, 2022. - Biden is heading to Uvalde, Texas to pay his respects following a school shooting. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived in Uvalde, Texas, to pay their respects to the victims and to soothe the grieving community after Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School killed 21 people, including 19 students and two adults.

Upon landing on Sunday morning, the president and first lady were welcomed by applause from onlookers. The Bidens were greeted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, First Lady Cecilia Abbott, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, Rep. Tony Gonzales and Judge Bill Mitchell.

They also spoke with Dr. Hal Harrell, the Uvalde County Independent School District superintendent, and Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School, where they visited a memorial for the victims. President Biden was seen wiping away a tear while paying respects.

After laying flowers at the front of the school, the Bidens met with everyone involved in the school shooting massacre, including the families of the victims, survivors, and first responders, according to CBS News.

"He hopes to convey empathy and understanding of what an impossibly horrible moment this is for them," one of the president's advisors said, per CNN. "He hopes to offer some small piece of comfort, if that possible."

For more on this story, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

As the president was leaving the memorial at the school, the outlet reported a Uvalde resident, Ben Gonzales, urged him to take action in response to the gun violence.

President Joe Biden arrives at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. 29 May 2022 Pictured: old gunman Salvador Ramos massacred 19 children students and two adult teachers Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Photo credit: / MEGA +1 888 505 6342 / MEGA

"President Biden, we need help! We need help, President Biden!" Gonzales reportedly shouted.

They later attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where they were greeted by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.

The visit from the Bidens comes on the heels of an announcement from The Justice Department that it will conduct a review of the police response to the mass shooting at the request of Mayor McLaughlin.

"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," DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley issued in a statement on Sunday.

"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," the statement noted.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas on May 29, 2022. - The President and First Lady are in Uvalde to pay their respects following a school shooting. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The review is a crucial development as three days after the shooting, the Texas Department of Public Safety director said that Chief of Police Pete Arredondo made the "wrong decision" in not confronting the shooter until more than 40 minutes after he entered the school.

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision," Col. Steven McCraw told reporters. "It was a wrong decision. There's no excuse for that. We believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can. When there's an active shooter, the rules change."

According to McCraw, the shooter barricaded himself inside a classroom that they believed was otherwise empty. All of the victims were reportedly found in that room.

RELATED: Girl Who Survived Texas School Shooting Played Dead by Rubbing Blood on Herself

On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order on policing and public safety and pushed for "commonsense gun reforms."

"As a nation, I think we all must be there for them," Biden said. "And we must ask: When in God's name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country?"

The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

Related Articles