Politics

Trump to Address Nation About Florida School Shooting

Report ‘bad and erratic behavior,’ president says of reports that those close to alleged shooter had concerns

People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday after a shooting at the school killed 17 people. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Updated at 9:25 a.m. | President Donald Trump will address the nation Thursday morning about the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school after contending there were “so many signs” that a 19-year-old who killed 17 people was “mentally disturbed.”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Trump will deliver remarks from the White House at 11 a.m. about the Wednesday shooting, something his predecessor often did following such incidents. The president also has ordered all flags at public buildings to be flown at half staff to honor the Parkland victims, according to Sanders. 

Trump took to Twitter early Thursday to urge his nearly 48 million followers to let law enforcement officials know about any behavior they worry could lead to another mass killing.

The president noted Nikolas Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last year for, as he put it, “bad and erratic behavior.”

Trump also offered some constructive criticism of those who lived near and went to school with the accused mass murderer.

“Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem,” Trump wrote of Cruz. “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

[Trump Divided, Conquered in First Year in Office]

Cruz is scheduled to appear in a Broward County courtroom later Thursday on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump offered his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting” via another tweet. “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school,” he added.

Democratic members rarely agree with this president, but Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts voiced agreement with that particular Trump tweet. But then he urged the GOP president to seek tougher gun laws.

“I invite him to get off his ass and join me in trying to do something about it,” Moulton wrote, referring to Trump.

The president and his senior aides have given no indication he will pursue new gun laws, arguing after other mass shootings since he took office that the immediate wake of gun tragedies is not the proper time to discuss what has become a hot-button political issue.

Watch: 10 Years of Congressional Efforts on Gun Control

Second Amendment advocates are a big part of Trump’s base, and the president flew to Atlanta last April to address a National Rifle Association conference. He told that audience that what he called an “eight-year assault” on their Second Amendment rights came to a “crashing end” with his election.

[Analysis: Trump Takes the Budget Out of Budget Day]

“You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners,” Trump said that day. “No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans. Instead, we will work with you, by your side.”

Sanders has been peppered with questions about Trump and gun laws after previous shootings. But she canceled a planned Wednesday press briefing due to the shooting and there is no briefing yet planned for Thursday as the White House continues to deal with the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal and its admitted bungling of the handling of the fallout.

It is unlikely Sanders will brief Thursday now that Trump is speaking. It long has been standard practice that press secretaries do not take questions from the White House briefing room podium when presidents make national remarks.

She also is not expected to take on-camera questions Friday as Trump is scheduled to leave the White House by late morning to deliver a speech on his infrastructure package in Orlando before heading to his South Florida resort, where he will spend the long Presidents' Day weekend.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.