Donald Trump has paid tribute to the 17 victims of yet another mass shooting in the US without mentioning guns and framing the murder of civilians with automatic, military-grade weapons as a mental health issue.
Speaking at the White House, the President described the scene of Wednesday’s massacre as one of “violence, hatred and great evil”.
Trump then called for healing and peace and said his administration would work to improve school safety and address mental illness.
He said: “I want to speak directly to America’s children, 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 will do anything at all to protect you.”
Trump doubled-down on his assertion that the mass shooting of children in a school with weapons capable of firing 45 rounds a minute, and available online from sites such as CheaperThanDirt.com and in your local Walmart, was a mental health issue.
He did not mention 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.
Nor did he mention any of the things the New York Daily News have diligently been reminding people of over the last 24 hours.
He added: “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.”
Authorities said Cruz wore a gas mask as he stalked into the school carrying a rifle, ammunition cartridges and smoke grenades. He then pulled a fire alarm, prompting students and staff to pour from classrooms into hallways, according to Florida’s two US senators, who were brief by federal authorities.
Earlier in the day Trump sent a tweet that appeared to place the blame for the shooting partially on the shooter’s “neighbours and classmates”.
A 19-year-old man who had been expelled from the school was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, after authorities said he unleashed one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.
The ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday and opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Police believe he acted alone.
Cruz was expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon for a bond hearing, said Constance Simmons, a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office.