Saturday 21 July 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump visits Florida school shooting victims in hospital

Catherine Lucey and Jonathan Lemire

US president Donald Trump came face-to-face with hospitalised victims from the horrific school shooting in Florida and offered thanks to the doctors and nurses who helped the wounded, declaring "the job they've done is incredible".

Asked if he had talked with victims, Mr Trump added: "I did indeed, and it's very sad something like that could happen."

The president had tweeted earlier that he would meet with people "whose lives have been totally shattered".

Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited Broward Health North Hospital to pay their respects to the medical professionals who had responded to the shooting in nearby Parkland.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, trauma surgeon at Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, trauma surgeon at Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

They planned to meet with law enforcement officials at the Broward County Sheriff's office later on Friday.

But some of the parents, survivors and others affected by the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were more interested in firm action to prevent future assaults than a presidential visit.

"I don't want Trump to come but we want more gun safety," said 18-year-old Kevin Trejos, a senior at the school where 17 people were killed and 14 injured. "It's a dream. It hasn't hit me yet."

Mr Trump marvelled at the speed with which first responders got victims to the hospital - but ignored shouted questions about whether guns should be more tightly regulated.

More than 1,000 people had attended a candlelight vigil on Thursday night near the school, and at one point some began chanting, "No more gun! No more guns!"

Lori Alhadeff's 14-year-old daughter Alyssa was killed during the shooting. She invoked the president's 11-year-old son, Barron, as she angrily called for help.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with medical staff of Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with medical staff of Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

"President Trump, Barron goes to school. Let's protect Barron. And let's also protect all these other kids," she said on Friday on CNN, her voice raising to a shout. "You need to help us, now. We need security now for all these children. We need action, action, action!"

Mr Trump, who frequently boasts about his support for the National Rifle Association, made no mention of gun violence or any new measure to restrict access to firearms during remarks on Thursday about the shooting. He did promise to tackle school safety and "the difficult issue of mental health".

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, trauma surgeon at Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, trauma surgeon at Broward Health North Hospital in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

He also tweeted on Friday that he was "working with Congress on many fronts," though he offered no details.

Discussing the school shooting, police said the 19-year-old suspect in Florida, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire with an AR-15 rifle.

Investigators described him as a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media and had been expelled from the high school for "disciplinary reasons," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

The shooting was the nation's deadliest at a school since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

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