UVALDE, Texas — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden offered comfort Sunday to a city gripped by grief and anger as they paid respects at a memorial to 19 students and two teachers slain during a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.
The visit to Uvalde was Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to console a community in mourning after a staggering loss from a shooting. He traveled to Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet with victims' families and condemn white supremacy after a shooter espousing the racist “replacement theory” killed 10 Black people at a supermarket.
Outside Robb Elementary School, Biden stopped at a memorial of 21 white crosses — one for each of those killed — and the first lady added a bouquet of white flowers to a pile in front of the school sign.
They viewed individual altars erected in memory of each student, and the first lady touched the children's photos as the couple moved along the row.
Later in the afternoon, the Bidens will meet with the families of the victims. They're also set to meet with first responders before returning to Delaware.
Survivors of Tuesday’s mass shooting and friends of the victims say their faith is helping them keep going.
Volunteers on Saturday were hard at work outside the church where mass will be held on Sunday.
“I have no energy, but I figured the little energy I had, I could come and put it to good use,” said one woman.
A teacher from Robb Elementary School was among those who showed up to help.
“I told my kids to pray. That’s how they stood very quiet knowing someone was right there," she said.
The teacher spoke to KHOU 11 on the condition of anonymity.
"I prayed to God – please shield my door, please shield my walk because I could hear everything happening right there. I could smell it. I could smell it. We were right there,” she continued.
She came with her friend and former co-worker. They lost two coworkers in the tragedy, teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia.
“Eva and Irma were our two go people," said one of the women. “I lost my son two years ago. He was 19 years old, and if it wasn’t for faith and prayer, I mean, I wouldn’t be here. I’m trying to figure out my purpose, and I think I’ve found my purpose.”
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio is helping victims’ families and survivors.
“We have contacted counselors who dealt with the Sandy Hook massacre," said Catholic Charities San Antonio CEO Antonio Fernandez.
Fernandez is anticipating president and fellow Catholic Joe Biden’s visit tomorrow.
“I hope he can bring a message of love, hope, and respect and dignity," he said.
People were also seen donating items to help the victims and families of the tragedy on Saturday. One couple drove from San Antonio to bring rosaries.