The Justice Department has said it will review the law enforcement response to the Texas shooting, as US President Joe Biden visited bereaved families after the country’s worst school attack in a decade.
The president and First Lady Jill Biden visited a memorial at the school in Uvalde, Texas, before attending a church service and also meeting with survivors and first responders after landing in the state on Sunday.
Mr Biden was pictured reaching out to touch large photographs of the young children killed, while Mrs Biden laid a bouquet of 21 white flowers, one for each of those killed, as they paid their respects.
After leaving the church, they walked past a crowd of about 100 people who chanted “do something”
He responded: “We will.”
The president and his wife also spoke with Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) Superintendent Hal Harrell and Mandy Gutierrez, Principal at Robb Elementary School.
It comes as investigators seek to determine how critical mistakes were made in the response to the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said it will conduct a “Critical Incident Review” of law enforcement’s response to the shooting at the request of Uvalde’s mayor.
He said: “The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events.
“The Justice Department will publish a report with its findings at the conclusion of its review.”
He added the review would be conducted in a fair, impartial and independent manner and that the findings would be made public.
Some have been calling on the FBI to look into police actions following a decision to allow the shooter, Salvador Ramos, to remain in a classroom for nearly an hour while officers waited in the hallway and children in the room made panicked 911 calls for help.
Police say the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school last week with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after earlier killing his grandmother at the house they shared.
Official accounts of how police responded to the shooting have flip-flopped wildly, with calls mounting for an independent probe.
Mr Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly called for major changes to America’s gun laws but has been powerless to stop mass shootings or convince Republicans that stricter controls could stem the carnage.
Following the shooting, Mr Biden gave a commencement address at the University of Delaware.
He said: “Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died.
“We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
The Texas visit is Mr Biden’s third trip as president to a mass shooting site.
Earlier this month, he visited Buffalo, New York, after a shooting that left 10 black people dead at a supermarket.
Vice President Kamala Harris called for a ban on assault-style weapons during a trip to Buffalo this weekend, saying that in the wake of the two back-to-back mass shootings such arms are “a weapon of war” with “no place in a civil society”.