‘Grief overwhelms the soul.’ What Utah politicians said about the Texas elementary school mass shooting

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox orders flags to be lowered immediately to honor the victims of the mass shooting.

(Dario Lopez-Mills | AP) Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

After 19 children and two teachers were shot and killed at a Texas elementary school, Utah politicians released statements about their heartbreak and offered condolence to the families of the victims of America’s latest mass shooting.

“Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slaughtered. Lives extinguished. Parents’ hearts wrenched. Incomprehensible,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney wrote on his personal Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

The senator acknowledged that the “prayer and condolence” he offered was “grossly inadequate.”

“We must find answers,” Romney said of the mass shooting.

Sen. Mike Lee said his “heart breaks at the tragic news.”

“I pray for the victims, their families, and for our nation at this difficult time,” Lee tweeted.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, according to The Associated Press, said an 18-year-old gunman attacked the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas — about 85 miles west of San Antonio — and killed 19 children and two teachers. The mass shooter was a local man, Abbott said, and had likely been killed by police officers who responded to the shooting.

As of Tuesday evening, the shooting was still being investigated and details about the shooting were still being released.

“It’s hard to imagine a more heinous crime, and we pray for the students, educators, families, law enforcement officers, and everyone impacted by this senseless act of violence,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said in a news release.

Cox and Henderson wrote that they were “absolutely devastated.” They encouraged parents and students to use the SAFEUT app — an app that connects Utahns to crisis counselors — and for Utahns to “say something if you see warning signs.”

Following a proclamation from President Joe Biden honoring the victims of the mass shooting, Cox ordered that flags in Utah immediately be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Saturday.

Utah Rep. Burgess Owens also said he was heartbroken.

“This was a senseless act of pure evil, and my prayers are with the families of these precious, innocent souls. As a father and grandfather, I cannot imagine the devastation they are feeling this moment,” the congressman said on Twitter.

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams tweeted Tuesday evening that his “prayers are with the families who lost their children and loved ones to this horrific, senseless act.

Utah House Democrats tweeted that they were “horrified by the news of yet another mass shooting.”

“We are heartbroken by this seemingly endless cycle of violence,” the Democrats wrote on Twitter. “When will we as a society, as Americans, take responsibility for failed policies to protect innocent lives?”

The FBI found that “active shooter incidents” — what they define as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area” — nearly doubled between 2017 and 2021, according to a bureau study.

In 2017, the FBI found there were 31 active shooters and, during the next two years, that number dropped to 30 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But in 2020, active shooting incidents climbed to 40. And last year, in 2021, the FBI reported that the figure climbed again to 61 active shooting incidents.