As Patrick began to speak, O’Rourke stood in front of the stage and said, “Governor Abbott, I have to say something. The time to stop this was after Sante Fe High School. The time to stop this was after El Paso. The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing. You are all doing nothing. You said this is not predictable, this is totally predictable, when you choose to do anything. [Inaudible] …to stop this from happening again.”
Reacting to O’Rourke’s interruption, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin’s voice boomed at O’Rourke, “No, you need to get his ass out of here, this isn’t the place to talk this over. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line! Sir, you are out of line! Please leave this auditorium. I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.”
After O’Rourke again attempted to speak, blaming the state officials for the murders, McLaughlin said, “It’s on assholes like you, why don’t you get out of here?”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also shouted, “Sit down!” at O’Rourke as the candidate sought to draw attention to himself.
Patrick said, “You’re out of line and an embarrassment.”
The Texas Democratic Party tweeted after the fracas, “A real sick son of a bitch would pray for solutions instead of taking action after 21 Texans were slaughtered in their classroom.”
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, tweeted, “What kind of a complete scumbag lowlife piece of garbage does this? One of the worst things I’ve ever seen in politics.”
After interrupting the event, O’Rourke made familiar arguments that ascribe school shootings to those who advocate for gun rights.
“The only thing evil is what [Abbott] continues to do to the people of this state,” O’Rourke said.
Abbott listed resources available to the survivors and the family members of victims of the perpetrator, who killed 19 children and two teachers.
The Office of Attorney General Ken Paxton encouraged those affected to reach out to the crime victims’ compensation program, address confidentiality program, and the victim notification service.
McLaughlin previously endorsed Abbott’s opponent, Don Huffines, in the Republican primary for governor, specifically expressing concerns about illegal immigration.
Abbott stated that the 18-year-old perpetrator was a high school dropout with no known history of mental health problems. However, the governor did indicate that he had made posts on social media regarding plans to harm his grandmother and the children at the school.
The weapon used, the governor said, was a .223 caliber AR-15 style rifle.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw also indicated that the perpetrator purchased two semi-automatic weapons in March, including 375 rounds of ammunition.
Abbott pointed to mental illness as the core of the problem, contending that anyone who shoots another person has mental health problems.
The governor also commended the responding officers.
“Parents should contact victim services at the county fairplex,” Abbott said. “We know that there are still parents striving to make a connection. All parents are welcome and urged to contact victim services at the county fairplex,” Abbott said.
He encouraged families to access the resources provided at the county fairplex.
UPDATE: This piece has been updated with additional information from the news conference.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.