The grieving mother of a Florida school shooting victim has invoked Donald Trump’s 11-year-old son Barron, as she called on the President to protect American school children by introducing proper gun control laws.
Lori Alhadeff’s emotionally charged outburst will add to the pressure on a President who has so far avoided all mention of gun control after 17 people died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Speaking after spending two hours arranging the funeral of her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, a tearful Ms Alhadeff looked into a CNN news camera and told Mr Trump: “President Trump, Barron goes to school. Let’s protect Barron. And let’s also protect all these other kids.”
With her voice rising almost to a scream, the distraught mother added: “The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting, shooting her. And killing her.
“President Trump, you say, ‘What can you do?’ You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands. Put metal detectors at every entrance to the schools. What can you do? You can do a lot. This is not fair to our families that our children go to school and have to get killed.”
After pausing in an apparent attempt to compose herself, she said: “I just spent the last two hours putting [together] the burial arrangements for my daughter’s funeral, who’s 14!
“President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action! We need it now! These kids need safety now!”
Ms Alhadeff’s outburst came on the same day that more than 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the town of Parkland, with some in the crowd chanting: “No more guns! No more guns!”
Traumatised pupils at the school have also demanded the President take action on gun control, and rejected his offer of condolences.
When Mr Trump tweeted his “prayers and condolences”, 16-year-old Sarah Chadwick responded by writing: “I don’t want your condolences you f***ing [piece] of s***, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.”
Her message was retweeted more than 144,000 times.
While politicians including Florida Senator Marco Rubio insisted tighter firearms laws would not have prevented the massacre, students who survived the shooting emerged as powerful advocates of gun control.
One Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School pupil helped start a nationwide “Students for gun legislation” petition, which stated: “Adults have failed us … how many shootings will it take, how many innocent children have to die, until adults decide we, as our nation’s children, are more important than our nation’s guns.”
Some Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, including Ms Chadwick, expressed a desire to discuss gun control with Mr Trump.
Dear Donald Trump,— sarah // #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 16, 2018
I’m the 16 year old girl who tweeted you and told you i didn’t want your condolences, I wanted gun control, and went viral because of it. I heard you’re coming to my community soon and I would like to express my opinions on gun control to you face to face.
But when the President visited Parkland, there was reportedly no mention of the debate over gun regulation. Mr Trump praised first responders, praised the victims’ families, saying they were in “really great shape” given the circumstances, but ignored a journalist’s shouted question about gun control.
The White House also refused renewed requests to release photos from 2017 of Mr Trump signing a bill that made it easier for some people with a mental illness to buy guns.
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
After the mass shooting, Mr Trump tweeted that there were “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed”.
In the same tweet he also said that “neighbours and classmates” should have reported the erratic behaviour of suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz to the authorities, leading to accusations that the President was suggesting pupils at the school were partially to blame for what happened.