FRISCO, Texas — Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy needed a moment to collect his emotions at the podium.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was checking his phone between meetings, awaiting updates from his wife that their children had returned home from school safely.
And quarterback Dak Prescott, who isn’t a parent, worried about the day he becomes one.
The Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting 380 miles southwest of Cowboys headquarters shook the organization.
“Honestly, it makes me fearful to have children,” Prescott said Wednesday after practice. “And that’s not right. That’s sad. …. I don’t care if you’re an athlete or not. We’re talking about children. We’re talking about the future. I mean, I don’t have kids and can’t imagine having to send my kid to school with that anxiety.”
An 18-year-old gunman fatally shot 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday. In Facebook messages shortly before the massacre, the shooter threatened to shoot the students and said he had shot his grandmother. The shooting was the deadliest Texas school shooting in modern history and the third mass shooting in the U.S. in mere weeks.
Lawrence was exasperated.
“This is something that’s been happening for weeks,” Lawrence said of recent shootings. “And now it hits an elementary school, and we decide to turn on our TV and act like something is different? ... I feel like we are sitting back and looking on the outside and saying, ‘It’s not my family so it has nothing to do with me.’ And deep down it hurts.
“I don’t feel safe sending my kids to school.”
. @GregAbbott_TX Who is going to stand up and DEMAND we have better security at all these schools that can’t afford it???? How are our tax dollars not going to those who need the most protection??!! OUR CHILDREN! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
— DeMarcus Lawrence (@TankLawrence) May 24, 2022
Multiple members of the Cowboys lamented their loss for answers, Prescott anticipating to discuss school safety at his Wednesday town hall for law enforcement, community members and youth. Lawrence advocated for a two-door entry system at schools, requiring intercom screening to grant access.
“We’ve got to be better,” said McCarthy, who has a daughter finishing fourth grade just as some Uvalde victims were. “There has to be a better way. We know there’s a better way. And we need to do the things to make it better. To not protect the future of our community is tragic. It makes me sick like I’m sure it does everybody."
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dak Prescott on Uvalde shooting: 'Makes me fearful to have children'