UVALDE, Texas — A Wednesday press conference from Texas Republican leadership about the statewide response to Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was interrupted as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke got into a heated exchange with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Rep. Dade Phelan and other state leaders about a lack of legislative activity to prevent such tragedies.
Some 15 minutes into the conference that started shortly after 12:30 p.m. local time, O'Rourke approached the stage in the Uvalde High Auditorium hosting the event to vocally and openly question Abbott's commitment to enacting change.
Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde saw at least 22 people killed -- including 19 children and two adults.
"Sit down," Lt. Gov Patrick said as O'Rourke approached the stage. "You’re out line and an embarrassment. Sit down and don't play this stuff."
"You are doing nothing," O'Rourke replied. "This is totally predictable. You're all doing nothing."
"No," said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. "He needs to get his ass out of here. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line. Please leave this auditorium. I cannot believe you are a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue."
Replied O'Rourke as he left the room: "This is on you until you choose to do something about it."
"It's on assholes like like you," McLaughlin responded. "Why don't get out of here?"
The outburst came shortly after Abbott spoke to the importance of mental health evaluations and treatment in the wake of such tragedies.
After being escorted from the premises, O'Rourke addressed a gaggle of media that awaited him.
"The only thing he did was make it easier to carry a gun in public," O'Rourke said of Abbott, against whom he is campaigning for the Texas governorship. "And he bragged about the fact that there would be no background check, no training, no vetting whatsoever. He talked about this was evil. The only thing evil is what he continues to do to the people of this state. He says this was unpredictable -- it was totally predictable and I predict this will continue to happen when you continue to have a governor who will not stand up for the people of Texas."
After O'Rourke left the news conference, Abbott resumed his remarks, saying Texans should focus on the "healing and hope" in Uvalde.
"There are family members whose hearts are broken," Abbott said. "There are no words that anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts."
While addressing the media, O'Rourke also pointed out that Abbott is among the guests slated to speak at the kickoff forum to this weekend's NRA annual meeting in Houston, saying Abbott's "only interest is the gun lobby" and that change is "on every single one of us to do something."
He further added that Texas is ranks worst in the nation in mental health care access. (Not all data supports this.)
"He's refused to support a ban on AR-15s and AK-47s," O'Rourke said of Abbott. "This 18-year-old who just turned 18 bought an AR-15 and took it into an elementary school and shot kids in the face and killed them. Why are we letting this happen in our country? Why are we letting this happen in this state? Year after year, city after city. This is on all of us if we do not do something. I am going to do something, and I am not alone. The people of Texas are with us. The majority of Texas are with us. But we've got to stand up to this or we just accept this theater and business as usual and we accept the next shooting. We could've stopped this if we stood up after Santa Fe High School and if we had stood up after El Paso. We are going to stop the next one. We're standing up right here in Uvalde, Texas, right now."
Watch the entire press conference where interruption took place below.