Yesterday afternoon in a usually quiet high school in America, gun shots rang out, leaving scores of terrified teenagers dead.
Here’s the latest information we have so far, according to Reuters:
- There are 17 victims of the suspected lone gunman
- The shooter has been identified as ex-student Nikolas Cruz, 19
- Cruz is being held on 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s website
- Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and had multiple ammunition magazines
Police also released a picture of the alleged shooter, here:
This shooting is now the deadliest ever at an American high school, surpassing even the infamous 1999 rampage at Columbine High School, where two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher and then themselves. This awful event inspired the 2002 Michael Moore documentary Bowling for Columbine.
Horrifying video has emerged of the Florida attack:
And now, as expected, Donald Trump has weighed in with a dumb and offensive tweet in which he pretty much blames the school kids themselves for the attack.
He tweeted: “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. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
In fact, people were aware of the alleged shooter and steps were taken to try to stop him. According to the Miami Herald, administrators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School considered Cruz enough of a potential threat that one teacher said a warning was emailed last year against allowing him on the campus with a backpack.
And it’s also been reported that the FBI was alerted last year to a YouTube comment by a user named Nikolas Cruz warning: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” raising questions about whether authorities could have done more to prevent the attack.
Of course, what Trump is deliberately ignoring is the most painfully obvious fact of all: GUN CONTROL. It’s a self-evident point but it’s apparently necessary to keep repeating – if this attacker didn’t have such easy access to guns, he wouldn’t have been able to kill so many people.
The tragic irony in Trump’s tweet, as well, is that almost exactly a year ago today Trump quietly signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to buy a gun.
CNN spoke to a teenager at the Florida school who perfectly articulated this urgent need for gun control:
Reacting to Trump’s tweet, Brian Krassenstein commented: “I am at a loss for words. The President of the United States just blamed the actions of Nikolas Cruz on his ‘neighbors and classmates’ for not reporting him.
“What about: Congress, Gun Store Owners, Gun Manufacturers, The President of this nation????”
US political reporter Amanda Terkel added: “Trump is blaming the students at the school for not preventing the shooting. Incredible.”
And in another strange move, Trump tweeted out his message in reply to an earlier tweet about the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigration legislation.
What makes this so disturbing is that right-wing internet conspiracy theorists have been spreading rumours that the Florida shooter was an immigrant in the country under the DACA programme – but there is as yet no evidence to prove this is the case. In fact, fact-checking site Snopes says this is ‘FALSE’.
Whatever the answer, this anti-immigrant rush to judgment in a time of crisis is troubling even by Trump’s standards.
One angry Twitter user said: “You know EXACTLY why Trump linked the Florida shooter tweet to his tweet about DACA. The shooter’s last name is Cruz. This is beyond sickening. This is flagrant bigotry.”
Finally, when you compare Trump’s outrageous remarks to the comforting words offered by former president Barack Obama it almost makes you want to weep…
(Images: REex/ Broward County Jail)