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Trump also issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school. It says, “Our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones.”
A former student opened fire Wednesday at the school with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people and injuring 14 more. The 19-year-old was charged Thursday morning.
Trump did not speak out immediately after the shooting. He weighed in on Twitter early Thursday, calling the suspect “mentally disturbed” and stressing it was important to “report such instances to authorities, again and again!” The president also tweeted about the shooting twice on Wednesday, expressing condolences and saying he spoke with Florida’s governor.
The president has dealt before with the all-too-familiar ritual of offering consolation after horrific violence. In the wake of a Las Vegas shooting in October that killed at least 58 people, Trump spoke from the White House Diplomatic Room, calling it an “act of pure evil,” and seeking to help the nation heal.
In the past, he has largely focused on mental health as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control.
After a shooting at a Texas church left 26 people dead in November, the president also said “mental health” was the problem, adding that “this isn’t a guns situation.” When he visited Las Vegas to mourn with the families of those victims, Trump called the shooter “demented” and a “very sick individual,” though he added that “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
The 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media. He had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for “disciplinary reasons,” Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Mayor Beam Furr said on CNN that the shooter was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but that he hadn’t been back to the clinic for more than a year.