President Donald Trump met with survivors of the weekend shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday including the hero army veteran who braved gunfire to carry out crying children.
Speaking with U.S. Army specialist Glendon Oakley Trump said: ‘The whole world knows who you are now. You could be a movie star the way you look.’
Calling Oakley a ‘great hero’, Trump added: ‘That’ll be next, who knows, right? What a job you did. There are a lot of heroes, a lot of people who did incredible work.’
He then appeared to hand Oakley a badge before urging him to visit the White House.
Trump went on to thank first responders and law enforcement who helped during the horror.
Oakley told reporters he was shopping at a sporting goods store inside the Cielo Vista Mall in West El Paso when the gunman opened fire inside a nearby.
Oakley, who was visibly shaken while being interviewed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, said his own life wasn’t his main concern when gunshots rang out.
‘I was just so worried about those kids man. I’m just worried about those kids. I wasn’t really worried about myself. I just hope those kids are alright.’
The presidential motorcade had arrived earlier arrived at the University Medical Center of El Paso under tight security. Law enforcement officers toted long guns and some had riot gear.
A rally protest to fight white supremacy and demand gun control was planned.
Some Democrats and residents of El Paso say Trump’s fiery rhetoric has fostered the kind of anti-immigrant hatred that could have contributed to Saturday’s attack. The suspected gunman apparently wrote an anti-Hispanic rant before the attack.
Speaking to several hundred people, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said immigrants had made El Paso one of the safest cities in America, before Saturday’s shooting.
The president, joined by first lady Melania Trump, had earlier been Dayton, Ohio, the second site of the two weekend shooting rampages that left more than 30 people dead and spawned calls for gun legislation.
As happened earlier Wednesday in Dayton, Trump was being greeted by protesters demanding gun-control reform and an end to caustic rhetoric — including some from the president — that is believed to be contributing to a culture of violence in America.
During the flight from Dayton to El Paso, Trump tweeted photos of he and first lady Melania Trump visiting wounded patients at a hospital. Trump posed for photos with medical staff and spoke with law enforcement officials, giving a ‘thumbs up’ in one.
Trump tweeted: ‘The people I met in Dayton are the finest anywhere!’
But his visit to the city turned into ugly public spat with the Democratic senator and mayor after Trump called them ‘very dishonest’ and accused them of ignoring ‘love for the presidency’ at hospital treating the wounded.
Ohio senator Sherrod Brown and Dayton mayor Nan Whaley gave a press conference directly after touring Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton with the president to meet survivors, first responders and medical staff, and after saying that the president had been right to comfort people, said they pressed him on gun control.
But Trump unleashed first on Twitter then in person after seeing the press conference on live television.
First he tweeted from Air Force One that the two were ‘totally misrepresenting’ what had happened in the hospital.
Then he spoke in El Paso, Texas, on the second leg of his trip, and unleashed further, saying first: ‘We just left Ohio. The love, the respect for the office of the presidency, I wish you could have been in there to see it,’ he said to reporters – who the White House had banned from witnessing his visit.
He said that Brown and Whaley had asked to tour the hospital with him, and had told people that they ‘couldn’t believe’ what they saw. ‘The entire hospital was so proud of the job they did,’ he said.
Trump then said: ‘I turned on the television and there they were saying “oh I don’t know if it was appropriate for the president to be there,” etc etc, you know, the same old line.
‘They’re very dishonest people and that’s probably why he got I think maybe zero per cent and failed as a presidential candidate.’
His White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham also told DailyMail.com that Brown and Whaley intentionally exaggerated the degree to which they claimed they pressed Trump for action on gun control when they spoke after taking part in his visit to the hospital.
Former local congressman turned presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke had told Trump to ‘stay away,’ from El Paso saying his ‘racist’ rhetoric inflamed the killer.
‘Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!” the president write.
O’Rourke slapped back, saying, ’22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.’
Before he left the White House, Trump appeared to give his backing to tougher background checks before people can buy guns and suggested he would force Republicans to follow his lead.
The party’s senators had appeared to be getting behind a more limited ‘red flags’ law, which would keep guns from dangerous people but Trump said: ‘I’m looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important.’
The trip to Dayton and El Paso represents a major test of Trump’s public determination to bring unity in the wake of the mass shootings.
A suspected killer in El Paso echoed claims that Trump has made about illegal immigrants and Democrats had attacked the Republican president for waiting too long to condemn him as a white nationalist.
Trump denied Wednesday that he was inspiring killers, however, saying to reporters, ‘I think my rhetoric is a very, it brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well.’
No motive has been established behind the shooting in Dayton, unlike Friday’s incident in El Paso, Texas, where the suspect left behind a 2,300-word manifesto that raged about the ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas,’ posted online minutes before the shooting began on Saturday at a Wal-Mart in the Southern border city.