President Joe Biden told reporters that the man who took four hostages at a Texas synagogue on Saturday night committed an "act of terror."
The president released a preliminary statement after the hostages were released Saturday night but spoke with reporters on the subject for the first time while participating in a community service project in Philadelphia on Sunday.
"This was an act of terror. This was an act of terror," Biden stated upon entering the Philabundance food bank. "I wanted to make sure that we got the word out to synagogues and other places of worship that we're not going to tolerate this."
The president added that he spoke with Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier in the day about the situation and that they are "focused" on dealing "with these kinds of acts."
Biden declined to elaborate when pressed by reporters for a motive behind the terror act because he doesn't "have all the facts" but said he would go into further detail at his press conference on Wednesday.
The president did note that the attacker, whom authorities have identified as 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, was able to obtain a firearm illegally.
"The assertion was that he got the weapons on the street. He purchased them when he landed," Biden explained. "Apparently, he spent the first night in a homeless shelter. I don't have all the detail yet, so I'm reluctant to go into more detail, but, and allegedly, he purchased it on the street. Now what that means, I don't know. Whether he purchased it from an individual in a homeless shelter or a homeless community, because that's where he said he was, it's hard to tell."
Biden noted that expanding background checks for gun sales, while "critical," wouldn't "stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street."
"There's so many guns that have been sold of late, it's just ridiculous," he said in closing. "And it's because of the failure of us to focus as hard as we should and as consistent as we should on gun purchases, gun sales, ghost guns, and a whole range of things that I'm trying to do."