In his first formal comments on two mass shootings over the weekend that left over 30 people dead, President Trump mistakenly identified Sunday’s killings in Ohio as having occurred in Toledo rather than Dayton. The mistake was not lost on the mayors of both cities.
“May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” the president said in an address on Monday from the White House. “May God protect them. May God protect all of those from Texas to Ohio.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said that while it was “pretty obvious” Trump misspoke, the city was “happy to accept his prayers, even if they were meant for #Dayton.”
Kapszukiewicz quickly pivoted to criticizing lawmakers in Washington, D.C., for not doing more to curb gun violence.
“My prayer is that our leaders in Washington finally summon the courage to do something — frankly, anything — to stop the senseless mass slaughter that continues to occur in our country,” Kapszukiewicz wrote. “We remain the only country on Planet Earth where mass shootings continue to happen on a regular basis. This doesn’t happen frequently in other parts of the world. Why do we allow it to happen here?”
He added: “We are the greatest nation on earth, and we can do anything when we put our minds to it. Americans are desperate for a solution. If only our leaders in Washington felt the same urgency.”
The president, who has in the past visited communities affected by mass shootings, did not say whether he would visit El Paso or Dayton. Advisories posted by the Federal Aviation Administration suggest the president or vice president may visit both cities on Wednesday.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters that she was aware of the reports of a possible visit from the president but had not heard from Trump personally.
“I have not gotten a call,” Whaley said. “And you know, he might be going to Toledo, I don’t know.”
Mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley: "I've heard that [President Trump's] coming Wednesday but I have not gotten a call. And you know he might be going to Toledo, I don't know." pic.twitter.com/CYnyF6hA31— The Hill (@thehill) August 5, 2019
In tweets early Monday, Trump called on lawmakers in both parties to pass legislation strengthening background checks for firearms purchases and suggested they tie it to immigration reform.
In his subsequent statement delivered from the White House, Trump did not mention background checks.
He condemned the killings as “evil” and “wicked” attacks carried out by “mentally ill monsters.” The president also assailed “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” while blaming the internet and video games for fostering a culture of violence.
Trump cited the “racist hate” contained in a manifesto police say was posted by the alleged shooter in El Paso, but didn’t acknowledge his own anti-immigration rhetoric that it mimicked.
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