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SALT LAKE CITY — Politicians, public figures and organizations continued Wednesday to mourn the 19 children and two adults who were killed in a Texas elementary school shooting.
Utah Rep. Blake Moore said he cleared his schedule Wednesday to walk his sons to school. "As a dad, that was the best I could do today. I don't know how to talk to them about what happened yesterday in Uvalde," Moore tweeted.
"Our nation is mourning and our communities are struggling," Moore said, adding that he seeks "unity, not division" and wants to avoid "divisive rhetoric," and that he and his wife are heartbroken by the tragedy.
On Wednesday, U.S. authorities said the 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and "began shooting anyone that was in his way." Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed the gunman, who used an AR-style rifle.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he learned about the shootings while he was speaking at the groundbreaking of a Utah Food Bank distribution center in Springville.
"Sadly, I just got a text that there's been another terrible shooting at an elementary school in Texas, where a dozen kids lost their lives," Cox said. "My heart's breaking because I'm sitting here celebrating this incredible event to help people and knowing that there is evil and suffering happening out there."
He thanked those at the event "for what you're doing to help make the world be more gentle. May God bless you for your service, and may God inspire us to give more because we need it now more than ever."
Cox also issued a statement along with Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson later Tuesday, expressing their devastation for the events and offering prayers for those affected, while also encouraging those in need to "download the SafeUT app and to say something if you see warning signs."
Cox also called for the lowering of U.S. flags at all state facilities in accordance with President Joe Biden's proclamation honoring the victims of Tuesday's shooting.
The people behind SafeUT, an app connecting people in need to licensed counselors, also expressed their feelings about the events Tuesday.
"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken to learn about the devastating tragedy that occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday," SafeUT managers said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the victims' families and community."
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke about being a mother and the need to protect children.
"As a mother and Mayor, I am broken hearted but also outraged by the senseless act of violence against children in Texas," Wilson said on Twitter. "Many of us in elected offices stand ready to enact further laws to protect our communities. Those resisting need to take responsibility for their unwillingness to act. #EndGunViolence."
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall also lamented gun violence, as did Darlene McDonald, a candidate for Congress in Utah's 4th Congressional District.
"My heart goes out to the families of those killed in Uvalde, Texas today," Mendenhall tweeted. "As a mother of three children, I can't imagine the sorrow and anguish too many parents have suffered through as a result of gun violence."
My heart goes out to the families of those killed in Uvalde, Texas today. As a mother of three children, I can't imagine the sorrow and anguish too many parents have suffered through as a result of gun violence.— Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) May 25, 2022
"The solution to today's shooting and last week's shooting and the shooting before that and the shooting before that isn't more guns," McDonald wrote. "More guns haven't protected our children nor our grandparents. Officer Aaron Salter Jr. was armed. He died with 9 others."
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted from his personal Twitter account his condolences about the tragic events.
"Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents' hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible," he wrote. "I offer prayer and condolence but know that it is grossly inadequate. We must find answers."
Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents' hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible. I offer prayer and condolence but know that it is grossly inadequate. We must find answers.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 24, 2022
"My heart breaks at the tragic news from Texas today," Utah Sen. Mike Lee tweeted. "I pray for the victims, their families, and for our nation at this difficult time."
Utah Rep. John Curtis in a statement focused on the need for mental health efforts across the country.
"It is devastating when our innocent children become the victims of senseless violence. I trust we'll learn more in the upcoming days about how this could have been prevented, but I'm proud of the work we have done in Congress on mental health parity. That said, we still have much more we can do," Curtis said.
Utah Senate President Stuart Adams also offered prayers for the families of the victims.
"I'm heartbroken by the shooting in Uvalde, Texas," he wrote. "My prayers are with the families who lost their children and loved ones to this horrific, senseless act."
"Words will never be able to properly express the heartbreak we are all feeling right now. I mourn with the parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones of those who lost their lives yesterday," Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson said in a statement.
U.S. Senate candidate Evan McMullin called the shooting an "unspeakable tragedy," saying that his "heart aches for the young victims and their families."
"Children everywhere are vulnerable to these monsters and we have a basic moral duty to prevent these horrific massacres and protect their lives," McMullin tweeted.
The Texas school shooting today is yet another unspeakable tragedy and my heart aches for the young victims and their families. Children everywhere are vulnerable to these monsters and we have a basic moral duty to prevent these horrific massacres and protect their lives.— Evan McMullin 🇺🇸 (@EvanMcMullin) May 25, 2022
Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he is "sad and angry" over the mass killings and emphasized that "Utah must continue its efforts to make schools safe and secure for teachers and students."
"More and better counseling, single entry points, and more security in K-12 is a goal we can and should achieve!" Herbert tweeted Wednesday.
Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton expressed the need for more mental health resources in her Twitter statement.
"I am heartbroken to hear of the tragedy in Uvalde," she said. "While there are strong feelings on how to address these things, I think we can all agree that we need more mental health resources. It's something I'm committed to in #SLCO."
Government watchdog group Better Utah said the shooting "(reminds) that none of us are truly free as long as our children and families have to live under the constant fear of gun violence in our communities."