Meghan Markle visits Texas school memorial as Donald Trump to address gun lobby convention

The victims of this week's school shooting in Texas have been paid respects by the Duchess of Sussex, while former United States president Donald Trump is set to address the country's powerful gun lobby's annual meeting.

A woman seen kneeling in front of a memorial.

Meghan Markle placed flowers at a memorial outside Uvalde County Courthouse in Uvalde, Texas, following the massacre of 19 children at a primary school. Source: Getty, AFP / Chandan Khanna

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The Duchess of Sussex has laid flowers during a visit to a memorial site for the victims of the .

Meghan Markle placed white flowers tied with a purple ribbon at the memorial outside the Uvalde County Courthouse on Thursday.

She paid her respects after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers on Tuesday at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School.

The Duchess of Sussex lives in California with her husband Prince Harry and their two children.

She took the trip to Texas in a personal capacity as a mother to offer her condolences and support in person to a "community experiencing unimaginable grief", according to officials.

Donald Trump to address gun lobby convention

It comes as former United States president Donald Trump said he will still address a convention of the pro-gun rights National Rifle Association in Texas.

Mr Trump is scheduled to address the powerful gun lobby's annual meeting on Friday in Houston.

"America needs real solutions and real leadership at this moment, not politicians and partisanship," Mr Trump said on his social media network, Truth Social.

"That's why I will keep my longstanding commitment to speak in Texas at the NRA Convention and deliver an important address to America," he said.
People holding signs.
Gun-control advocates hold a vigil outside of the National Rifle Association headquarters on 25 May, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia, United States. Source: Getty / Kevin Dietsch
Mr Trump's plans and words place him in direct opposition to US President Joe Biden, who said after the shooting Tuesday that America must take on the NRA and enact meaningful gun reform laws.

"When in God's name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?" Mr Biden asked, his voice slow and heavy with emotion, in an address to the nation Tuesday evening in the wake of the shooting.

Texas police criticised by parents of school shooting victims over 'late' response

Desperate parents scuffled with police and pleaded with them to storm the Texas school where a shooter ultimately killed 19 children and two teachers, new video showed Thursday, as questions mounted over the authorities' response to the massacre.

In one jolty, nearly seven-minute clip posted on YouTube, parents living a nightmare - a school shooting under way with their kids inside - are seen screaming expletives at police behind yellow tape trying to keep them away from Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde.

"It's my daughter!" one woman bellows amid chaotic scenes of moaning, crying and shoving.

In another shorter video, parents mill around what is apparently the rear of the school, and complain angrily that police are doing nothing as the worst school shooting in a decade is unfolding.

One woman, frantic about her son, yells to police, "if they've got a shot, shoot him or something. Go on."
People standing at a memorial.
People gather at a memorial site to pay their respects to the victims killed in this week's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, 26 May 2022. Source: AP / Jae C. Hong/AP
Jacinto Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn died in Tuesday's massacre, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting.

"There was at least 40 lawmen armed to the teeth but didn't do a darn thing (until) it was far too late," Mr Cazares told ABC News Wednesday night.

"The situation could've been over quick if they had better tactical training."

Daniel Myers and his wife Matilda - both local pastors - told AFP they saw parents at the scene growing frantic as police appeared to wait on reinforcements before entering the school.

"Parents were desperate," said Daniel Myers, 72. "They were ready to go in. One family member, he says: 'I was in the military, just give me a gun, I'll go in. I'm not going to hesitate. I'll go in.'"

'Approximately an hour'

The tight-knit Latino community was changed forever when Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old with a history of being bullied, entered the school with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

According to the Austin Statesman, authorities are examining the police response, including what steps they took to stop the shooter.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw told CNN Ramos was inside for about 40 minutes before police managed to shoot and kill him.

Officials say he was confronted by a school resource officer, but was able to enter through a back door, making his way to two adjoining classrooms where he started shooting.

Hearing shots from the school, police officers at first ran inside and themselves came under gunfire.
Memorial for Texas school shooting victims
The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest since 20 primary school-aged children and six staff were killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. Source: Getty / Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Some police started to break windows and evacuate children and teachers, while law enforcement helped pin the shooter in place until a tactical team that included US Border Patrol agents was assembled.

Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said the force's agents "didn't hesitate."

"They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could," Mr Ortiz told CNN.

'I have no words'

Speaking out for the first time, Ramos' mother Adriana Reyes told ABC News her son could be aggressive when angry but was "not a monster", and that she was not aware he had been buying weapons.

"I had an uneasy feeling sometimes, like 'what are you up to?,'" she told ABC Wednesday evening. "We all have a rage, that some people have it more than others."

Authorities said Ramos shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before attacking the school.
"Those kids... I have no words," Ms Reyes said through tears. "I don't know what to say about those poor kids."

The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest since 20 primary school-aged children and six staff were killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.

'Common sense'

The Georgia-based gun manufacturer Daniel Defense said it was its "understanding" that Ramos used a weapon made by the company, without specifying how he obtained it.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act," the company said in a statement to AFP, promising its full cooperation with investigators.

Pressed Wednesday on how Ramos was able to obtain the murder weapon, Texas governor Greg Abbott brushed aside suggestions tougher gun laws were needed in his state - where attachment to the right to bear arms runs deep.
But in the shooting's wake Mr Biden - who will head to Uvalde in coming days - has called on lawmakers to take on America's powerful gun lobby and enact "common-sense gun reforms."

Gun control activists and politicians addressed reporters outside the US Capitol on Thursday, vowing no let-up in their efforts in the run-up to November's midterm elections.

"Gun violence prevention is going to be on the ballot," said the Democratic senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal.

The March for Our Lives - founded by survivors of the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida - has meanwhile called for nationwide protests on June 11 to press for gun control.

Readers seeking mental health support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged up to 25).

7 min read
Published 27 May 2022 at 11:24am, updated 27 May 2022 at 2:47pm
Source: SBS, AFP, AAP