Donald Trump has suggested the “neighbours and classmates” of a teenager who allegedly shot dead 17 people in a Florida school yesterday should have done more to prevent the massacre.
The President tweeted there were “so many signs” 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was “mentally disturbed” and even appears to suggest a link between being expelled from school and committing mass murder.
Trump made no mention of the fact that in February of last year he signed a bill that rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for mentally ill individuals to buy guns.
He also posted the tweet in reply to another sent earlier in the week about immigration.
Cruz allegedly walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday shortly before classes ended and opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Cruz was being held on 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s website. It was not known when he would appear in court, reports Reuters.
Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and had multiple ammunition magazines when he surrendered to officers in a nearby residential area, police said. He loved guns and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, police and former classmates said.
Trump also came under fire for his tweet sent shortly after the news of the shooting broke - one of the students reportedly from the school in question replied in no uncertain terms.
A chilling cell phone video broadcast by CBS News showed what it said was the shooting in progress from inside a classroom. Several students were huddled or lying on the floor surrounded by mostly empty desks. A rapid series of loud gunshots are heard along with hysterical screaming.
One survivor, Kyle Yeoward, 16, said he and about 15 other students and a teacher hid in a closet for nearly two hours before police arrived.
The dead were a mix of students and adults. Twelve were killed inside the school, two just outside and one on the street, while two other victims died from their wounds in the hospital, Israel said.
The shooting was the 18th in a US school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
It was the deadliest ever at an American high school, surpassing the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher and then themselves.
It was also the second deadliest at a US public school, after the 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman also killed his mother and himself.