Former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke — currently running for governor of Texas — interrupted a press conference by Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, walking up to the podium to shout, "You're doing nothing!" before being led out of the room by police.
Abbott, a Republican, and other officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, were holding the press conference to provide updates on Tuesday's deadly mass shooting at an elementary school.
On Tuesday afternoon, an 18-year-old shooter opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killing 19 children and two adults. Authorities have not yet specified how many more were injured, though University Health San Antonio tweeted that it has two patients, a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, who are in critical condition.
Uvalde, Texas, is a small city of about 16,000 residents, approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio.
Footage of the press conference shows Abbott beginning to speak, before O'Rourke begins walking up to the officials, pointing his finger at them and saying they were "doing nothing."
Scott Eisen/Getty, Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo Beto O'Rourke (left), Greg Abbott
"The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing," O'Rourke told Abbot, per CNN.
"You said this is not predictable," O'Rourke continued of the shooting. "This is totally predictable."
O'Rourke's surprise appearance kicked off a flurry of activity, with several officials on stage, including Cruz, yelling back at the Democrat with profanities and at one point calling him, "pathetic."
Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Beto O'Rourke
As he was being led away, CNN reports that O'Rourke could be heard saying, "This is on you, until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed, just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday."
ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty
Once O'Rourke was escorted out, Abbott continued the press conference, calling the shooting "intolerable."
Abbott, who took office in 2015, has backed several measures to loosen gun laws during his time in office (including seven signed into law last June), and is among a group of high-profile Republicans, including Cruz, slated to appear at an NRA event in Texas later this week.
Tweeting about Abbott's planned appearance, O'Rourke wrote, "Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend's NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas."
Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 25, 2022
O'Rourke officially announced his own campaign for governor in a video posted to social media last November, saying that the state's current leadership is "focusing on the kind of extremist policies — around abortion, or permitless carry, or even in our schools — that really only divide us."
O'Rourke — who toured in a punk band in college — served three terms in the House of Representatives before narrowly losing a high-profile Senate race in 2018 against Sen. Ted Cruz. Though he lost the race, his name recognition grew, and he launched a short-lived presidential bid in 2020.
Since his short-lived White House bid, O'Rourke has focused much of his energy on voting rights, teaching courses at the University of Texas on the subject and acting as a central figure pushing back against Republican efforts to change the state's voting laws over the summer.
The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.