Biden orders US flags to half mast in honour of Highland Park shooting victims

US flags will fly half-mast until sunset on 9 July

<p>Biden Texas School Shooting</p>

Biden Texas School Shooting

American flags will fly at half-mast across the United States and on all US vessels, embassies, and other overseas facilities until sunset on Friday after President Joe Biden ordered them lowered in honour of the victims of the Highland Park, Illinois shooting which claimed six lives at an Independence Day celebration on Monday.

“As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of gun violence perpetrated on our Independence Day, July 4, 2022, in Highland Park, Illinois, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff ... until sunset, July 9, 2022,” Mr Biden wrote in a proclamation released by the White House on Tuesday.

In what has become a grim ritual, Mr Biden issued a similar proclamation after mass shootings took place in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York two months ago.

Mr Biden’s decision to order flags lowered in mourning comes as Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, said in a telegram to Chicago’s archbishop that he is praying for the six who lost their lives in the Monday shooting, as well as for "healing and consolation to the injured and bereaved”.

Francis also called for all to "reject violence in all its forms and respect life in all its stages” in his message, which decried the "senseless shooting".

Mr Biden first responded to the Highland Park shooting in a statement on Monday afternoon, saying he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked” by the bloodshed and calling it yet another example of “senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community”.

The president said he and Ms Biden were “grateful” for the efforts of law enforcement officials who’d responded to the bloody scene, and said he’d offered Illinois Governor JB Prizker and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering the “full support of the federal government,” including a surge of law enforcement officers to assist in the hunt for the suspected shooter, which was ongoing at that point.

The shooting in Highland Park came just weeks after Mr Biden signed into law the first major piece of federal gun safety legislation to make it through Congress in decades.

Mr Biden said the bill he signed will save lives, but stressed that there is “much more work to do” and vowed not to give up in the fight against gun violence.

A short time after Mr Biden issued his statement, Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters she and the president had been working “in close coordination” and were being briefed on the situation as the manhunt for the alleged shooter unfolds.

“Right now we do have an active shooter situation and so we are putting all of the resources possible into monitoring that in a way that we can bring this to a close in terms of also capture of that individual,” she said.

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