Trump says he would have rushed into school

The Timaru Herald - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: Don­ald Trump says he would have rushed in­side the Florida high school where 17 peo­ple were shot dead, even if he was not armed.

The US pres­i­dent made the com­ment as he said that an armed po­lice school re­source of­fi­cer, who re­mained out­side the build­ing dur­ing the mas­sacre on Fe­bru­ary 14, had ‘‘choked’’.

Speak­ing to a group of 39 state gover­nors at the White House, Trump said: ‘‘I re­ally be­lieve, you don’t know un­til you’re tested, but I re­ally be­lieve I’d run in, even if I didn’t have a weapon.’’

He added: ‘‘I think most of the peo­ple in this room would have done that, too.’’

Fol­low­ing re­ports that other po­lice of­fi­cers had also failed to go in, Trump said it was ‘‘frankly dis­gust­ing’’ and added: ‘‘They weren’t ex­actly Medal of Honour win­ners.’’

How­ever, in his first pub­lic state­ment about the shoot­ings, Scot Peter­son, the school re­source of­fi­cer, said it was ‘‘patently un­true’’ that he acted with cow­ardice, and sug­gested there had been a ‘‘gross over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion’’ of what hap­pened.

He said an ini­tial re­port mis­tak­enly said fire­crack­ers were be­ing set off near the build­ing.

Peter­son said he then heard gun­shots ‘‘but be­lieved that those gun­shots were orig­i­nat­ing from out­side of the build­ings’’.

Fol­low­ing his train­ing to seek cover and as­sess the sit­u­a­tion in the event of out­door gun­fire, he ‘‘took up a tac­ti­cal po­si­tion’’ between two nearby build­ings while alert­ing head­quar­ters and ini­ti­at­ing a ‘‘Code Red’’ lock­down of the school, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

Joseph DiRuzzo, Peter­son’s lawyer, said: ‘‘Let there be no mis­take, Peter­son wishes that he could have pre­vented the un­timely pass­ing of the 17 vic­tims on that day, and his heart goes out to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims in their time of need.’’

Mean­while, Trump also sug­gested that there was day­light between him­self and the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, Amer­ica’s big­gest gun lobby, in how to re­spond to the shoot­ing.

The NRA, which has five mil­lion mem­bers, en­dorsed Trump in the 2016 elec­tion and backed him with tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.

The pres­i­dent said he had lunch with the NRA lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne LaPierre, over the week­end, and they were ‘‘great pa­tri­ots’’. But he added: ‘‘Some­times we’re go­ing to have to be very tough and we’re go­ing to have to fight them.’’

Trump told the gover­nors: ‘‘Don’t worry about the NRA. They’re on our side. Half of you are so afraid of the NRA. You don’t need to be afraid of them. They want to do some­thing.’’

He re­it­er­ated his be­lief that some teach­ers should be armed.

– Tele­graph Group

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