Trump visits Florida hospital to pay respects after shooting
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited a Florida hospital Friday (Feb 16) to offer their respects to the victims of a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school.
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with doctor Igor Nichiphorenko beside First Lady Melania Trump while visiting first responders at Broward Health North hospital Pompano Beach, Florida, on Feb 16, 2018. (Photo: AFP)
The first couple visited Broward Health North Hospital, where a White House official said they would thank medical staff "for their life-saving assistance."
The pair are also expected to visit the Broward County sheriff's office "to meet with the law enforcement officials whose bravery helped save lives."
Trump's visit to the hospital had not been announced in advance.
"It's a fantastic hospital, and they have done an incredible job," said Trump. "The doctor was amazing we saw numerous people and incredible recovery.
"And first responders, everybody, the job they've done is incredible and I want to congratulate you. Incredible job.
He added: It's very sad something like that could happen. But the job the doctors did, the nurses, the hospital, the first responders, law enforcement, really incredible.
"The speed that they got the victims over to the hospital, in one case 20 minutes, in one case 19 minutes from the time of the shot, it's an incredible thing."
The U.S. leader is spending the long President's Day holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which is only about a 45-minute drive from Parkland, where the Valentine's Day shooting rampage took place.
A troubled former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has confessed to gunning down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School north on Wednesday, in the country's worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago.
In the wake of the attack, Trump has vowed to tackle mental health and school safety, but has yet to make any mention of gun control.
While the latest atrocity has reignited questions about U.S. gun laws, Trump -- the first president to have addressed the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby -- staunchly opposes any additional controls.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Trump suggested the root cause of the mass shootings that regularly stun the United States was a crisis of mental health -- an argument regularly made by opponents of gun curbs.
Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country -- an average of one a week, according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety
Since the shooting, Trump has faced teary pleas from some relatives of the dead including Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa was killed.
"We need action! Action! Action!" Alhadeff urged in an interview with CNN, addressing Trump as the father of an 11-year-old son of his own.
"Let's protect Barron, and let's also protect all these other kids here in Parkland, in Florida, and everyone everywhere else," she said./.