One day after a tragic shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers, campuses opened their doors as usual Wednesday across the Southland, with some under a closer watch from law enforcement hoping to offer some assurance of safety to students, parents and staff.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said there were “no adequate words” to describe Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 85 miles west of San Antonio.
But he added, “While we believe this is an isolated incident, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center is monitoring the situation, and we will have an increased presence at schools in our jurisdiction (Wednesday).”
Barnes went on to say, “No parent should ever have to wonder if their child is safe at school. We extend our condolences and prayers to the grieving community of Uvalde.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department would be working with “school resource officers to ensure the safety of our children.”
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said the department “is working closely with Los Angeles School Police to increase patrols around our schools and common pathways to ensure the safety of our children. We are also working diligently to investigate crimes and behaviors that can lead to future violence.”
The Santa Monica Police Department issued a statement saying, “Even though we have no information of any credible threats occurring in our schools, personnel within our department will show a strong presence around our local schools.” In Torrance, police Chief Jay Hart said the department “is committed to protecting the safety of Torrance students and continues to work with (Torrance Unified School District) to create an environment where students and teachers can thrive.”
In Long Beach, police issued a statement also saying there are no known threats of violence locally, but “we are maintaining a vigilant posture and increasing our patrol presence throughout the city, including at our schools.”
Across the Southland, parents walked or drove their kids to schools as usual. There were no announced changes to any school schedules at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the nation.
“Don’t be afraid! Today is a day of showing our true colors to each other,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wrote on his Twitter page Wednesday morning, sharing a video of Cyndi Lauper’s song “True Colors.”
He again lamented the shooting, saying, “This devastating, repeating tragedy that keeps robbing us, as a nation, or our future, through the murderous bullets of derangement is the result of a heartless and cowardly failure of political leadership and courage. Silence and inaction are tantamount to complicity.”
Tuesday’s shooting sparked an outpouring of emotion from local officials, many of them making emotional calls for gun control.
“Our hearts are breaking. I’m sick of this,” Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted. “We can’t keep losing innocent children because we’re incapable of doing what’s right. We can’t stall on gun control any longer. How much sorrow before stopping these acts of senseless violence?”
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, wrote, “My heart breaks for the families of the victims in Uvalde, TX. We cannot continue to do nothing on gun reform and expect a different result. We must pass laws to stop these awful, preventable tragedies NOW.”
Tuesday’s horror took place around noon Texas time.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott initially confirmed that 14 students, along with a teacher, were killed when a single gunman struck. The number of students killed later rose to 18, and then to 19, along with two teachers.
According to reports, the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, allegedly shot his grandmother earlier in the day, then headed to the school, armed with a handgun and a rifle.
In addition to those killed, roughly 15 other children and two adults were injured in the shooting, according to various reports. The gunman was killed by police.
Carvalho and LAUSD board President Kelly Gonez issued a joint statement Tuesday saying, “Our hearts are with the victims of today’s school shooting. May they have the strength and resilience to endure this unacceptable tragedy. As a nation, we must continue to speak up against gun violence. We have a moral and professional collective obligation of ensuring a perimeter of inviolable safety around schools. Enough is enough.”
Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, said in a statement, “We grieve with the parents, guardians, educators, students, families and the Uvalde community. It saddens us that once again our world is rocked with the senseless death of students and an educator. Our schools should be the safest spaces to send our children. … Thoughts and prayers are not what’s needed. We need gun reform now.”
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block added, “Children should be able to go to school without the fear of violence. What happened today shakes me to my core.”
In response to the calls for gun control, the Sacramento-based Gun Owners of California retweeted a statement from its partners at Gun Owners of America, saying, “We mourn the innocent Texans murdered this afternoon. Sadly, we have already seen significant politicization of this tragedy for political gain by those on the left, including most alarmingly, in fundraising emails — but also in calls for gun control. Additionally, politicians who support the Second Amendment across the state and country are being made the subjects of unacceptable, vitriolic, ad-hominem attacks, and we stand in their defense.
“Instead of playing politics, we must discuss real solutions to preventing this type of evil from striking again, for example, by arming willing teachers which is a solution supported by 81% of police. If our elected officials are important enough to receive armed protection, so too should our children.”
The nation’s latest mass shooting came one day after Los Angeles elected officials, faith leaders and cultural leaders gathered at First AME Church of Los Angeles for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims killed in two racial- and hate-motivated mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods last week.
The vigil was hosted by the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department and attended by Garcetti, Councilmen Curren Price and Paul Koretz and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore.
A candle was lit for each of the 11 victims killed during the two shootings: 10 in Buffalo on May 14 and one in Laguna Woods on May 15.
“Going to school. Going grocery shopping. Going to church. Going to the mall. My heart breaks for the families and community in Uvalde, Texas — and for all victims of gun violence,” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, tweeted following Tuesday’s school shooting. “We must do better. We must save lives. We must #EndGunViolence.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis echoed those thoughts, saying on Twitter, “My thoughts and prayers are with those whose loved ones were tragically lost and injured during the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School.
“Gun violence has devastated far too many communities including Uvalde, Texas today. When is enough, enough? #EndGunViolence NOW.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles and a candidate for mayor, said, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we said never again. Ten years later 1 teacher and 14 children are murdered in Texas. Republican inaction is killing our kids. They choose to look away. They choose to not act. We need reform now.”
Mayoral candidate and L.A. City Councilman Kevin de LeÃ³n wrote, “I’m disgusted that this is normal in America. The worst part? We can prevent this. But Republicans in DC would rather watch our kids die than take action. We need national gun safety laws, and we need them now.”
Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso tweeted Tuesday night, “As a father, my heart absolutely breaks for the families in Texas tonight. No parent should ever have to endure such unbearable loss. We have to do better as a country.”