President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Parkland, Florida, the site of Wednesday’s shooting that killed 17 people.
On Thursday Trump addressed the nation from the White House, saying he’s making plans to meet with families and local officials, and to continue coordinating the federal response.
Trump called on Americans to “answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness,” after a 19-year-old former pupil gunned-down students and teachers at the school.
Trump did not speak out immediately after the shooting. He weighed in on Twitter early on Thursday, calling the suspect “mentally disturbed” and stressing it was important to “report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
He has not mentioned guns.
Trump said, “To law enforcement, first responders, and teachers who responded so bravely in the face of danger, we thank you for your courage.”
Trump had been planning on spending the weekend in Florida. The White House says the timing of the visit has yet to be finalised.
The president also tweeted about the shooting twice on Wednesday, expressing condolences and saying he spoke with Florida’s governor.
The president has dealt before with the all-too-familiar ritual of offering consolation after horrific violence.
In the wake of a Las Vegas shooting in October that killed at least 58 people, Trump spoke from the White House Diplomatic Room, calling it an “act of pure evil’, and seeking to help the nation heal.
In the past, he has largely focused on mental health as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control.
After a shooting at a Texas church left 26 people dead in November, the president also said “mental health” was the problem, adding that “this isn’t a guns situation”.
When he visited Las Vegas to mourn with the families of those victims, Trump called the shooter “demented” and a “very sick individual”, though he added that “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by”.
The 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media.
He had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for “disciplinary reasons”, Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Originally published as Trump urgers love but avoids guns debate