President Donald Trump said he called on victims of Wednesday’s high school shooting in Florida, which left 17 dead, on a hospital visit Friday evening.
“I did indeed,” he said when asked if he’d met any of the seven still hospitalized. “It’s very sad that something like that could happen.”
Trump’s remarks followed a brief stop at Broward Health North hospital in Pompano Beach, Florida, with his wife, Melania. The couple had already planned to stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach for the holiday weekend. The visit to the hospital and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office were added to the schedule following Wednesday afternoon’s massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a well-to-do community about 40 miles south of Palm Beach.
In brief comments to reporters, Trump praised the work of first responders and medical staff. “They have done an incredible job,” he said, adding later, “The job they’ve done is incredible.”
When asked if new gun laws are needed, Trump walked away without answering.
Police have charged Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled from the school last year, with 17 counts of murder. Police said he used an AR-15 military-style rifle that he legally purchased. Fourteen students and three school staff members were killed.
How many victims Trump met is not immediately clear, nor is the tenor of those conversations.
When President Barack Obama spoke to the nation after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting that left 20 kindergarteners and first-graders dead, he had to stop several times to wipe away tears. Trump, in contrast, read his remarks Friday off a teleprompter in a flat tone and displayed little emotion.
Trump’s visit to the community is also a rare foray into an area where he’s generally not liked. The vast majority of his presidential trips have been to areas where he did well in the 2016 election.
Broward County, Florida, is quite the opposite. While Trump lost Parkland by just 5 percentage points to Democrat Hillary Clinton, he lost neighboring Coral Springs ― where many of the Stoneman Douglas students live ― and Broward County as a whole by a 2-to-1 margin.