WASHINGTON, Feb. 18
U.S. President Donald Trump said here that making schools and students safer will be a top priority during a national address on Thursday, after a mass shooting at a Florida high school killed 17 people and wounded 14 others one day ago.
“No student, no teacher should be in danger in an American school,” Trump said from the White House. “No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.”
The president also said that he planned to visit the shooting scene in Parkland, Florida, to meet with families and local officials and to continue coordinating the federal response.
The shooting took place around 2:30 p.m. (0730 GMT) Wednesday when students were being dismissed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the city of Parkland in Broward County, just north of Miami on the state’s southeastern tip.
It was the 18th school shooting in the country this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The suspected gunman, captured shortly after the shooting, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old student at the school who was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons.
He was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and multiple ammunition magazines, police said. During his remarks on Thursday, Trump talked about tackling the “difficult issue of mental health” but did not mention the prevalence of guns or gun violence.
In an earlier tweet, Trump said that “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,” the president continued. “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again.”
Cruz was expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon for a bond hearing, faced with 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to the state attorney’s office.
Speaking at a press conference held in Parkland Thursday, FBI agent Rob Lasky said the agency investigated a YouTube comment published in 2017 under the name of “Nikolas Cruz” that claimed “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” on the site.
But the FBI couldn’t identify the person making the comment. Florida Governor Rick Scott said Thursday that he will have conversations with state leaders soon about how to make sure individuals with mental illness do not have access to guns.
Scott also said he will discuss ways to make sure that parents know their children will be safe at school.
Broward County schools superintendent Rob Runcie, for his part, urged “a real conversation on sensible gun control laws” in the country, while stressing a need for funding for mental health support.