Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a press conference in Uvalde after the mass shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead.
Abbott said he would be passing the microphone to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, when O’Rourke stood up. “You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said, adding that the shooting was “totally predictable” because gun laws were not strengthened following other shootings in the state.
Patrick told O’Rourke to “sit down … you’re out of line in an embarrassing encounter” and called on O’Rourke to leave the auditorium.
“I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a b**** to come to a place like this to make a political issue,” Patrick shouted over O’Rourke.
Law enforcement officers appeared to escort O’Rourke out of the news conference afterward. CBS News’ Janet Shamalian said it appeared that some people had saved seats for O’Rourke.
After O’Rourke was escorted out, Abbott did not address the incident directly but called for unity, saying that “every Texan, every American has a responsibility where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas, but we need to focus on the healing and hope that we can provide those who have suffered unconscionable damage to their lives and loss of life.”
“We need all Texans in this moment in time to decide to personal agendas, think of somebody other than ourselves, think of somebody who has been hurt and help somebody who has been hurt,” he continued.
After O’Rourke left, he told reporters, “these kids died because the governor of the state of Texas, the most powerful man in the state, chose to do nothing.”
“After every one of these, he holds a press conference just like this – and I wish to hell when he came to El Paso that someone would have stood up and held him to account and confronted him and shocked the conscience of this state into doing something,” O’Rourke said. “Because if we do nothing, we will continue to see this. Year after year, school after school, kid after kid. This is on all of us, every single one of us to do something.”
During his failed presidential run in 2019, O’Rourke was an outspoken advocate for gun control measures. A former congressman, O’Rourke represented El Paso, where a gunman shot and killed 23 people.
After that shooting, O’Rourke memorably said during a presidential debate, “Hell yes, we are taking your guns” about AR-15s. Abbott and other law enforcement officials stated Wednesday that the shooter in Uvalde used an AR-15.
Before O’Rourke’s interruption, Abbott called for solutions to the mental health crisis in Uvalde, although he also said that the shooter had no known history of mental illness. Abbott said local officials told him that “we have a problem with mental health, illness, in this community.”