Trump to visit sites of recent mass shootings in US

Officials express unease at president’s plans to fly to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas

US president Donald Trump has called on the nation to condemn white supremacy in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

 

US president Donald Trump will visit Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas on Wednesday as the fallout from last weekend’s mass shootings continues to reverberate across the United States.

The White House confirmed that Mr Trump will fly to both cities, where he is expected to meet victims and law enforcement officials. But several senior officials expressed unease at the president’s plans.

The Democratic mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, said residents who were unhappy about Mr Trump’s visit should say so. “I think people should stand up and say they’re not happy if they’re not happy he’s coming,” she said, adding that Mr Trump’s comments in the Oval Office on Monday about the two mass shootings were disappointing.

“His comments weren’t very helpful to the issues around guns,” she said. “I think they fell really short.”

Ms Whaley previously expressed her annoyance at Mr Trump’s mistaken reference to the city of Toledo, rather than Dayton, during his 10-minute address to the nation on Monday.

“I’ve heard that he’s coming Wednesday but I have not gotten a call,” she said shortly after the televised peech. “And you know, he might be going to Toledo, I don’t know.”

‘We need to heal’

Nine people were killed in Dayton when a heavily-armoured 24-year-old man opened fire shortly after 1am on Sunday in a busy downtown area of the city. Within a minute the gunman was shot dead by police who were patrolling the area.

Among those killed in the attack were the gunman’s sister. An acquaintance of the gunman and his sister survived the attack and was being questioned by police.

Former Texas congressman and El Paso resident Beto O’Rourke, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, called Mr Trump to stay away from the border city, where 22 people were killed after a gunman opened fire in a Walmart store on Saturday.

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” he said. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”

Mr Trump has been widely condemned for his divisive language and racist rhetoric, particularly when it comes to immigrants from Mexico and Central America, with some arguing that his inflammatory words have helped stoke white nationalism.

The 21-year-old gunman in the shooting in El Paso is reported to have specifically targeted Hispanics, and the city’s demographics may be one reason why he drove ten hours from Dallas to carry out the crime.

White supremacy links

El Paso, a southern Texas city right on the Mexican border, has one of the highest Hispanic populations in the country, and seven Mexican citizens were killed in the attack.

The victims of the attack ranged in age from 15 to 90, and included two young parents who died protecting their two-month old baby who survived.

Police are continuing to explore links between the suspect and a white supremacist manifesto posted online minutes before the attack which talked about removing Hispanics from the United States.

In a further sign that domestic terrorism and white nationalism is emerging as a major source of gun violence in the United States, the FBI in California announced it was opening a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting dead of three people at a festival in Gilroy, California ten days ago.

Three people died and the 19-year-old gunman was killed during the attack at a Garlic festival on July 28th.

Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, announced on Tuesday new proposals to limit gun access for people with mental health problems, but the suggestion was roundly dismissed by Democrats as insufficient to tackle gun violence.