The congressman who represents the district where the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting took place said Friday that when he first heard about the incident, he was in a state of "shock, sadness, and disbelief."
"Nobody wants this from anywhere, anywhere," said Republican Rep. Randy Weber. "Certainly when it's in your own district, it comes home very quickly. And you just say, oh man, it's just, I mean it's tragic."
Weber said he first heard about it while driving to the Capitol on Friday morning for votes. "It's been very, very hectic," he said, adding that some of his district staff were able to get to the scene.
He described Santa Fe as a "quiet community" with "salt of the earth people."
"This is just really shocking," he added.
Moments earlier, as he was leaving the House floor, Weber was hugged by Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed at a high school in February. The Parkland shooting ignited an unprecedented wave of activism among students across the country pushing for gun control.
Asked if he anticipated a renewed debate on gun control, Weber said it was a debate "that needs to be had" but argued mental illness needs to be part of the discussion.
"Gun control is an interesting term when you think about it. There's been a lot of weapons used to kill a lot of people," he said. "You're hearing the term mental illness. ... We are having problems where people are deciding they're going to take somebody else's life, things are either that bad or they're that angry. And so how do we address that problem -- needs to be part of that discussion as well."
A little more than two years ago, Weber introduced a bill that would permit active and retired law enforcement officers and anyone who has a concealed-carry permit to bring their firearms onto school grounds.
Weber said he plans to visit the school Friday if it's still daylight by the time he gets home.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who is from the Houston area, went to the scene Friday.
"Any and all federal assets and resources that are needed will be provided, and Texas will come together in the wake of this horror," he said in a statement.
Sen. John Cornyn, the senior senator from Texas, was also en route Friday to the school and addressed the shooting at an event in Killeen, Texas.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured and killed at Santa Fe School District right outside of Galveston," he said. "We all are standing by again and our hearts go out to those who are affected by this terrible tragedy."
Texas was home to another recent mass shooting back in November, when a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child, and wounded 20 others, at a church in Sutherland Springs.