‘My heart is breaking’: Utah politicians and officials react with grief to news of Texas school shooting

Law enforcement officers walk past Uvalde High School after gunshots were reported earlier in the day at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas. (William Luther, The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah politicians, public figures and organizations are responding to a shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday that left 19 children and two adults dead.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox learned of the shooting while speaking at the grand opening of a Utah Food Bank distribution center in Springville.

“Sadly, I just received a text message saying there was another horrific shooting at an elementary school in Texas, where a dozen children lost their lives,” Cox said. “My heart breaks because I’m sitting here celebrating this incredible event to help people and knowing that there is hurt and suffering out there… I want to thank you all for what you are doing to help to make the world a kinder place. May God bless you for your service, and may God inspire us to give more because we need more than ever.

Cox also released a statement with Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson on Tuesday afternoon in which they expressed their devastation for the events and offered prayers for those affected, while encouraging those in need to “download the app SafeUT and say something if you see the warning signs.”

Cox also called for the lowering of American flags at all state facilities in accordance with President Joe Biden’s proclamation honoring the victims of today’s shooting.

The people behind SafeUT, an app connecting people in need with licensed counsellors, also expressed their feelings about the events on Tuesday.

“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken to learn of the devastating tragedy that occurred Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas,” SafeUT said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the families and community of the victims.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke about being a mother and the need to protect children in a statement she posted on Twitter.

“As a mother and mayor, I am heartbroken but also outraged by the senseless act of violence against children in Texas,” Wilson said. “Many of us in elected offices are ready to enact new laws to protect our communities. Those who resist must take responsibility for their refusal to act. #EndGunViolence.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall also cited gun violence in her statement, as did Darlene McDonald, a congressional candidate in Utah’s 4th congressional district.

“My heart goes out to the families of those killed today in Uvalde, Texas,” Mendenhall tweeted. “As a mother of three children, I cannot imagine the grief and anguish that too many parents have experienced because of gun violence.”

“The solution to the shooting today and the shooting last week and the shooting before and the shooting before is not more guns,” McDonald wrote. “More guns did not protect our children or our grandparents. Officer Aaron Salter Jr. was armed. He died along with 9 other people.”

Utah Senator Mitt Romney tweeted from his personal Twitter account his condolences for the tragic events.

“Grief overwhelms the soul. Children slain. Lives snuffed out. Parents’ hearts torn apart. Incomprehensible,” he wrote. “I offer my prayers and my condolences, but know that it is utterly insufficient. We need to find answers.”

“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 Senate President J. Stuart Adams also offered prayers for the families of the victims.

“I am heartbroken by the shooting in Uvalde, Texas,” he wrote. “My prayers are with the families who have lost their children and loved ones to this horrific and senseless act.”

US Senate candidate Evan McMullin called the shooting an “indescribable tragedy”, saying his “heart aches for the young victims and their families”.

“Children everywhere are vulnerable to these monsters and we have a fundamental moral duty to prevent these horrific massacres and protect their lives,” McMullin tweeted.

Salt Lake County Councilman Aimee Winder Newton voiced the need for more mental health resources in her statement on Twitter.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the tragedy of Uvalde,” she said. “While there are strong feelings about how to approach these things, I think we can all agree that we need more mental health resources. This is something I am committed to # SLCO.”

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Arianne Brown is a breaking news reporter for KSL.com. She also enjoys finding and sharing stories of everyday Utahns, a talent she developed over several years of freelance writing for various Utah news outlets.

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