Continuing a pattern that traces back to the early days of his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump himself has yet to openly acknowledge a series of attacks in which the perpetrators were white.
"The United States stands with the Canadian people in the aftermath of today’s tragic event in Toronto, where a van drove into a crowd of people killing several and injuring many more," the White House's Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement about an incident where a 25-year-old man ran pedestrians over in a van on Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those affected, and we wish a full recovery to those injured. The United States Government pledges to provide any support Canada may need."
During a press briefing earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the hero of the Waffle House shooting — a man named James Shaw Jr., who wrestled the gun away from the shooter — but focused on other matters.
"I also want to commend the heroic actions of James Shaw Jr. early Sunday morning at a Waffle House in Tennessee," Sanders told reporters at the press conference. "Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had opened fire. The President offers his condolences to the victims and their families. He is monitoring the ongoing situation and the White House is in regular contact with state and local officials."
Since the Nashville Waffle House shooting early on Sunday morning, Trump has tweeted about former FBI Director James Comey, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, North Korea, praise he received from political consultant Mary Matalin, the ongoing probe into his campaign's alleged collusion with Russia, his visit with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, sanctuary cities, the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, NAFTA, food stamps and the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee (he retweeted Vice President Mike Pence for that last one).
Notably absent from this list was any reference to either of the attacks that have been dominating headlines, and that have left two countries shaken.
On Sunday, Travis Reinking, a 29-year-old man living in Tennessee, is believed to have committed a mass shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee that left four people dead. Reinking was on the run for more than a day before a major area-wide manhunt eventually tracked him down to a wooded area near a construction site roughly one mile from where he allegedly committed his crime. It is unclear what Reinking's motives were for committing the mass shooting, although early reports revealed that he had tried to breach the White House last year and considered himself to be a "sovereign citizen."
The silence from the president's Twitter account could mean that, in order of priority, another mass shooting could be less important than a fire in Trump Tower, the residential apartment building owned by his private company (one which the president's family still controls). Trump's tweet came hours after reports of the fire.
On Monday, a 25-year-old man in Toronto used his white rental Ryder van to run over a pedestrian crossing the street, then proceeded to drive up a sidewalk and run over innocent people in an indiscriminate manner. The suspect, Alek Minassian, was not believed to have been working with any organized terrorist group, according to The New York Times, and was thus not labelled as a terrorist himself. Nevertheless, his actions caused the deaths of at least 10 people and managed to injure at least 15 others.
One of the ongoing controversies of Trump's presidency has been his seeming tendency to focus more on tragedies that involve non-whites and/or Muslims killing people than he does on those in which the perpetrators are white. For instance, he took several days to respond to violent incidents that were motivated by hatred of Muslims in Kansas and Oregon — or to a school shooting in January in Kentucky — but took less than a day to tweet about violent incidents carried out by Muslims in Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando and Manchester.
While little is known about either suspect, both appear to have been white men.