US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden offered comfort on Sunday to a city gripped by grief and anger as they paid respects at a memorial to 19 students and two teachers killed during a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.
Their visit to Uvalde, Texas, comes less than two weeks after Mr Biden comforted the families of 10 people shot to death at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Outside Robb Elementary School, Mr Biden stopped at a memorial of 21 white crosses – one for each of those killed – and the first lady added a bouquet of white flowers to a pile in front of the school sign.
They viewed individual altars erected in memory of each student, and the first lady touched the children’s photos as the couple moved along the row.
“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died,” Mr Biden said Saturday in a commencement address at the University of Delaware.
“We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
After visiting the memorial, Mr Biden attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where some victims’ families worship.
As he departed to meet privately with family members, a crowd of about 100 people began chanting “do something”. Mr Biden replied, “We will,” as he got into his car.
It was not immediately clear what the president was suggesting. He also planned to meet with first responders before returning to his home in Delaware.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed on Tuesday, said she respected Mr Biden’s decision to mourn with the people of Uvalde.
“It’s more than mourning,” she said. “We want change. We want action. It continues to be something that happens over and over and over. A mass shooting happens. It’s on the news. People cry. Then it’s gone. Nobody cares. And then it happens again. And again.”
“If there’s anything if I could tell Joe Biden, as it is, just to respect our community while he’s here, and I’m sure he will,” she added. “But we need change. We need to do something about it.”
Mr Biden visited amid mounting scrutiny of the police response to the shooting.
Officials revealed on Friday that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators for help as a police commander told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway.
Officials said the commander believed the suspect was barricaded inside an adjoining classroom and that there was no longer an active attack.
The revelation caused more grief and raised new questions about whether lives were lost because officers did not act faster to stop the gunman, who was ultimately killed by Border Patrol tactical officers.
The US Justice Department announced on Sunday it will review the law enforcement response and make its findings public.