While speaking at a labor union forum in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, former Texas lawmaker and current Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke told the crowd to keep El Paso, Texas, in their thoughts after news of a deadly shooting broke.
“I’m thinking about El Paso, I want you to be thinking about El Paso as well,” O’Rourke said.
Because of the tragic situation that unfolded in his hometown, O’Rourke announced that he would be cutting his Las Vegas campaign stop short, according to CNN.
Visibly shaken while addressing the crowd, O’Rourke said that he immediately called his wife, Amy, and young daughter after he heard the horrific news.
“She’s driving with my daughter Molly and to talk to her,” O’Rourke said. “Just a real reminder of what’s most important at the end of the day for all of us.”
Shortly after reports of the incident hit social media, the former lawmaker posted a tweet to let his followers know, instructing people in the area to follow directions from emergency personnel.
Truly heartbreaking. Stay safe, El Paso. Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates. https://t.co/BU0AH6Y8Rv
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 3, 2019
O’Rourke also reminded the Las Vegas audience that the issue of gun violence was one that he considers an absolute priority, especially after another mass shooting. The shooting disproves “any illusion that we had that progress is inevitable or that the change that we need is going to come of its own accord,” he said.
He then stressed the importance of setting politics aside and coming together as a nation to attempt to come up with solutions to get a handle on these types of horrendous events.
“There is no luxury in this democracy of sitting this one out, whether it is gun violence, whether it is many of the issues we discuss today,” O’Rourke told the audience. “It is on every single one of us to make this right.”
O’Rourke has deep ties to El Paso. He was not only born there, he also served in the House as a representative from Texas’ 16th Congressional district, which includes all of El Paso and the areas around it.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 3, 2019
Several other 2020 Democratic candidates expressed their concern over the mass shooting incident, including fellow Texan and native of Houston, author Marianne Williamson.
She offered prayers for those affected and “prayers for all the rest of us as well, that we might summon up the courage to remove this scourge from out midst.”
Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, called the incident “truly devastating” and immediately called for gun reform in a later tweet.
My heart is with the people of El Paso today as they cope with a devastating mass shooting—the scope of which we are still learning.
This attack is a tragic reminder of our government’s failure to do its most basic duty: to protect American lives. We need gun reform now. https://t.co/z0JTng4kVa
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 3, 2019