Several residents in Uvalde, Texas, still reeling from the elementary school mass shooting that killed 19 kids and two teachers have spoken out against Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke’s attempt to derail Gov. Greg Abbott’s press conference Wednesday.
Abbott had just finished speaking about mental health resources available for survivors and first responders to Tuesday’s shooting when O’Rourke, a pro-gun control gubernatorial candidate, walked up to the stage and accused Abbott of “doing nothing” to prevent these tragedies.
Some Uvalde residents slammed O’Rourke for trying to score political points during a moment that was meant to provide information and solace for Uvalde families.
“Yeah it’s bull—-, man,” one resident, who requested to remain anonymous, told Fox News. “People are grieving, trying to process their loss and Beto is running around doing this stuff. It’s bull—-, save it for later.”
Fox News’ Lawrence Jones reported Thursday morning that “the town was not happy about this.”
“And just to put it into context, this is a Democrat area,” he said. “A lot of them are Democrats. This is not even about politics. This is about their loved ones. … He took this tragedy and made it about him.”
Jones said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, a Republican, had requested ahead of the press conference that politics not be discussed.
“He had already given us all a warning saying do not try to use this tragedy for some type of narrative,” Jones said. “He told the politicians that were on the stage, ‘This is my town.’ He had made himself very clear to everyone in the room as well as the press that he didn’t want any of that. And so Beto O’Rourke to come to this town and bring his politics, it was so shady, it was so sad, and I think a lot of the families that are grieving just didn’t think much of him after that.”
HuffPost reporter Daniel Marans also spoke with several people who slammed O’Rourke’s actions.
Cody Ytuarte, whose two cousins were killed in the shooting and another wounded, was in attendance at the press conference.
“There’s a time and place to address certain things like that,” Ytuarte told HuffPost. “To do it in the moment in which the tragedy is being addressed so recently, to come in and to act in that way is pure propaganda.”
HuffPost also spoke with Cris Vazquez and Brenda Hidalgo, two Republican Uvalde residents, who said they were “appalled by what Beto did but support closing background check loopholes.”
Meanwhile, Republicans have not held back in criticizing O’Rourke for Wednesday’s stunt.
McLaughlin, who called O’Rourke a “sick son of a b—-” as the event unfolded, told Fox News Thursday morning: “That was not the time and place to have that discussion. If he wants to have that discussion, that’s fine. But today at that conference was not the time or place to do that.”
McLaughlin acknowledged there is a “gun problem” and suggested increased background check specificity, but added the mental health crisis in the United States must be addressed.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was onstage during O’Rourke’s outburst, accused his former senatorial opponent of trying to turn the somber event into a “political rally.”
“I was shocked… it was disgusting,” Cruz told Fox News. “To try to politicize it and turn it into a rally the way Beto did — I’ve seen a lot of crass behavior — that was embarrassing.”
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.