President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived in Uvalde, Texas on Sunday, May 29 to pay their respects to the victims of the Robb Elementary shooting massacre. Barely a week after visiting the site of the racist shooting in Buffalo, the couple stopped at the makeshift memorial in front of the school, where 19 children and two teachers were slaughtered by an 18-year-old gunman. There they laid down flowers and reflected on the innocent lives lost as they touched the cardboard cutouts of each victim, per CNN.
After shaking hands with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Biden and his wife also spoke with Dr. Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde County Independent School District and Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School. Following the stop at the school, the couple are expected to attend Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church for a special service dedicated to the victims. Later they will meet privately with the victims’ families and then first responders.
“He hopes to convey empathy and understanding of what an impossibly horrible moment this is for them,” an adviser of the President said in a statement, according to the outlet. “He hopes to offer some small piece of comfort, if that is possible.”
The President and First Lady’s visit comes a day after Matthew McConaughey returned to his hometown of Uvalde to also pay his respects. The Oscar winner, whose mother taught at a school one mile away from the tragic scene at Robb Elementary, visited with school district officials and took photos with staff, but did not make any public statements at the time.
Although McConaughey didn’t address the public during his visit, he was one of the first high-profile celebrities to make a statement shortly after news broke of the horrific tragedy. “Once again we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us,” he wrote on Instagram. “As Americans, Texans, mother and fathers, it’s time we re-evaluate, and renegotiate our wants from our needs,” he continued. “We have to rearrange our values and find a common ground above this devastating American reality that has tragically become our children’s issue.”
The Dallas Buyer’s Club star’s return to his hometown follows the surprise visit on Thursday by the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, where she laid white flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims and donated food to the blood drive. Other celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Halle Berry, sent their condolences to the victims’ families and spoke out about the gun violence in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in 2012.