Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s briefing Wednesday on the Uvalde school massacre was interrupted by Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic gubernatorial foe, who shook his finger at the governor and accused him of doing nothing.
Mr. O’Rourke, the former congressman, lectured state and federal officials holding a press conference on the stage at Uvalde High School about Tuesday’s deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School, which left at least 19 children and two teachers dead.
It was difficult to understand Mr. O’Rourke, who was not wearing a microphone, but his comments included: “This is totally predictable” and “You are doing nothing.”
Those on stage pushed back, telling him to sit down and accusing him of pulling a political stunt.
“You are out of line and an embarrassment,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, “Sit down and don’t play this stunt.”
A man identified as Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin yelled, “Sir, you’re out of line, please leave this auditorium,” and, “I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a bitch, coming to a deal like this to make a political issue.”
The heated encounter lasted about one minute, after which Mr. O’Rourke was escorted out of the auditorium by security, surrounded by photographers. A few people in the crowd could be heard shouting, “Let him speak!”
Mr. O’Rourke, a longtime gun-control advocate, is challenging the Republican Abbott in his bid for reelection in November.
After the interruption, Mr. Abbott encouraged people to focus on the family members of the massacre’s victims, instead of political agendas.
“We all, every Texan, every American, [have] a responsibility where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas,” Mr. Abbott said. “We need to focus on the healing and hope that we can provide to those who have suffered unconscionable damage to their lives and loss of life.”
Beto O’Rourke interrupts ongoing press conference by Texas Gov. Abbott and other officials. pic.twitter.com/qa8YY0ghQy— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 25, 2022
There was plenty of reaction to Mr. O’Rourke’s actions on Twitter.
Meghan McCain, former co-host of “The View,” accused Mr. O’Rourke on Twitter of a “[s]ick theatrical political stunt during a time of mourning.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida, tweeted: “You are my hero @BetoORourke.”
— Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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