Trump's tweet on Florida school shooting suggests victims partially at fault

"Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem," the president tweeted after a young man killed 17 in Parkland

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published February 15, 2018 9:46AM (EST)
 (AP/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Evan Vucci)

An earlier headline inaccurately suggested this was President Trump's first tweet about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He had, in fact, previously tweeted his condolences.

Following a familiar script, President Donald Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to opine about the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. Like he had after the shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando, both during his presidential campaign, Trump suggested that people around the shooter who did not sufficiently inform authorities were partially at fault.

"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!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's tweet, inexplicably linked to another tweet disingenuously blaming Democrats for the DACA deadline he created, follows a pattern of partially blaming certain mass shootings on the people around the shooter.

"Many people saw the bombs all over the apartment (in San Bernardino), Muslims have to report the problems when they see them," Trump said during a presidential debate.

Curiously, Trump made no similar proclamation after the worst mass shooting in modern history only months ago, when a middle-aged white man opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers.

A 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale, returned on Valentine Day's to unleash terror on students, teachers and faculty. Seventeen people died on Wednesday, and 15 more remain hospitalized, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. The gunman was believed to have been armed with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and multiple magazines.

Trump's earlier tweet about the shooting angered a student named Sarah on Twitter:

After responding to Trump’s message of condolence, she tweeted: “Today has been the worst day of my life. I’ve been crying helplessly for hours. Thank you to everyone for your support. I’m going to try to sleep now.”

Trump is scheduled to address the shooting later on Thursday, more than 20 hours after the gunman first opened fire.

Wednesday's shooting was the 18th in 2018. In the last year, we've seen the deadliest mass shooting, the deadliest church shooting and the deadliest high school shooting in modern U.S. history. The only gun measure Trump has signed since taking office revoked an Obama-era rule that required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness. Trump’s budget also slashes funding in the background check system.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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