It has been one year since 19 students and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.
Here’s how people around the country — including President Biden, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others — are marking the grim anniversary.
Moment of silence, flags at half-staff and a vigil
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims, and called for a moment of silence to be held at 11:30 a.m. local time, which coincided with when the shooting began.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who was sharply critical of the response to the massacre from Abbott, a Republican who opposes gun control, tweeted a simple message: “Sending love to the families in Uvalde today and every day.”
In Uvalde, there will be a candlelight vigil in a local park on Wednesday evening. (Members of March for Our Lives, a student-led pro-gun-control group that formed following the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, said they will be in attendance in solidarity.) Plans for a permanent memorial in Uvalde to the victims of last year’s shooting are under discussion, but it is unclear where or what it will be.
Robb Elementary School, which has remained closed since the rampage, will eventually be demolished. The 800 or so displaced students have been placed at other elementary schools. A new elementary school three miles away is scheduled to open in 2024, but construction has yet to begin.
Staffers at Uvalde’s El Progreso Memorial Library have cataloged thousands of items the community received in the aftermath of the shooting to “preserve the community and national responses” to the massacre.
Biden addresses nation
The president delivered a speech at the White House on Wednesday afternoon marking one year since the school shooting in Uvalde.
"One year ago today, Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, turned into another killing field in America," Biden said in remarks, with first lady Jill Biden by his side.
The president recalled traveling to Uvalde with the First Lady to visit a makeshift memorial five days after the killings.
"Standing there in Uvalde, Jill and I couldn’t help but think that too many schools, too many everyday places have become killing fields in communities all across every part America," Biden said. "And in each place, we hear the same message: Do something. For God’s sake, please just do something."
Last year, following the mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation that bolstered mental health, school safety and crisis intervention programs, and closed the so-called boyfriend loophole, under which unmarried people convicted of domestic abuse could still obtain weapons.
But the package did not include many of the tougher restrictions advocates have been calling for, including banning AR-15-style rifles, raising the purchasing age on such weapons to 21 and background checks for all gun transactions.
"We did something afterwards, but not nearly enough," Biden said, reiterating his call for Congress to pass what he called "commonsense" gun reforms, including the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"It’s time to act," the president added. "It’s time to make our voices heard. Not as Democrats or Republicans. But as friends, neighbors, parents — and as fellow Americans."
Earlier Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the victims in a statement while urging the passage of gun control legislation.
“Today, our nation continues to mourn for those lost, to pray for their families who must bear the unbearable, and to grieve for a country in which violence like this — even in elementary school classrooms — is sickeningly common,” Harris said. “One year after Uvalde, gun violence remains the leading cause of death for children in our nation. One in five Americans has lost a family member to gun violence.”
Harris added: “Today, Doug and I pray for the people of Uvalde. And we urge leaders in Congress and in state legislatures to meet this heartbreaking moment not just with words, but with action.”
Community still searching for answers
At a press conference on Monday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin apologized to the families of victims still searching for answers about the failed police response to the shooting.
“This week is a tough week. We can’t even imagine the pain that the families are feeling. One year later we realize you still don’t have the answers that you need,” McLaughlin said. “And for that, I apologize.”
There are multiple ongoing investigations into the law enforcement response, including probes by the Justice Department, district attorney and the city of Uvalde.
More than 370 officers from local, state and federal agencies responded to the scene but waited more than an hour to confront the gunman — even as children were dialing 911 from inside the classrooms.
Pete Arredondo, chief of the school’s small police force, was fired by the school board, along with the unit’s five other officers.
“Everybody that was there that day has to be held accountable,” McLaughlin said.