WASHINGTON — President Trump said this morning that he is “making plans to visit” Parkland, Fla., to meet with families and local officials after a gunman killed 17 students and adults at a high school on Valentine’s Day.
Trump tweeted this morning, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was charged today with 17 counts of premeditated murder. His social media pages reflected a fixation on weapons and threats of violence, and he had been expelled from school reportedly after fighting with his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. He had been adopted as an infant and both of his adoptive parents are deceased.
Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said Cruz had previously received treatment at a mental health clinic, but not for more than a year. Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 used in the shooting about a year ago, according to the Associated Press.
In the Diplomatic Room of the White House this morning, Trump decried the “evil” shooter who “opened fire on defenseless students and teachers.”
“To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also,” he said. “No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them good-bye in the morning.”
Trump then addressed his prepared remarks to the country’s schoolchildren, “especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared.”
“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer or a faith leader. Answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness,” he said. “We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”
The president said he would meet with governors and attorneys general later in the month on “making our schools and our children safer … our top priority.”
“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” he added. “We must actually make that difference.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged colleagues on the Senate floor this morning to do “something, something” about gun violence.
“Again, yesterday, the scourge of gun violence visited an American school, a place where our kids should be able to learn free from the shadow of violence and mayhem. Again, we all watched the scenes of children running for their lives. Again, a twisted soul got ahold of an assault rifle and unleashed carnage on the innocent,” Schumer said.
“As we remember the words of Scripture that tell us ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,’ let us resolve to do something, something, about the epidemic of gun violence in our country,” he added.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) began the morning on the floor by remembering the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “To say that such brutal, pointless violence is unconscionable is an understatement. Schools should be places where children can learn, and faculty and staff can work, without fear of violence,” he said.
“My colleagues from Florida will carry home the prayers of the whole Senate — for victims and their families, for the community of Parkland, and for the first responders who bravely charge into harm’s way on behalf of others,” McConnell added.
As news of the shooting unfolded Wednesday evening, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) slammed colleagues for “inaction” after school shootings.
“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America. This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” Murphy said. “It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”
“As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children, and it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking that same question later today,” he added.