Upon leaving University Medical Center in Las Vegas, just days after the worst mass shootings in modern American history, President Donald Trump said that the perpetrator was a “very demented person.” Speaking to reporters as he left the hospital, the president said, “It's a very sick man.”
Trump did not say what motivated Stephen Paddock, 64, to mow down concert-goers across the street from the Mandalay Bay casino complex on the Las Vegas strip on Sunday night. The president said, however, that “we're looking very hard” for answers.
At least 59 people were killed in the attack and more than 500 were injured. Praising police, first responders, and citizens who risked their lives to save others, Trump said, “In the depths of horror, we will always find hope in the men and women who risk their lives for ours.”
Trump said, “The mass murder that took place on Sunday night fills America's heart with grief. America is truly a nation in mourning.” Trump said that he conveyed to patients in the hospital, “We're with you 100 percent.”
The president said that he invited many to visit the White House. “I said, 'If you're ever in Washington, come on over to the Oval Office.' And they're all saying, 'We want to do it. How do we do it?'" Trump said. “And, believe me, I'll be there for 'em. But the message that I have is that we have a great country, and we are there for you, and they're there for us.”
When a reporter asked whether he would address the issue of gun-related violence, the president answered, "We're not going to talk about that today."
With First Lady Melania Trump standing at his side, when Trump was asked whether he had any information about the motives of the shoot, he said, "Not yet. I can tell you it's a very sick man. A very demented person. We haven't seen that yet, but you will know very soon if we find something. We're looking very hard. I'm actually going over to the police department.”
Democrats have again raised the prospect of further gun controls in the aftermath of the carnage in Las Vegas. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for example, has introduced legislation that would ban the possession and sale of so-called bump-stocks that allow certain semi-automatic rifles to fire at nearly the rate of automatic rifles. Some Republican senators have expressed interest in discussing a ban, even while none have so far signed on as co-sponsors of Feinstein’s bill.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that debate over gun laws has come much too soon. “Today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost,” Sanders said. “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country.”
Trump also visited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, where he delivered brief remarks and congratulated police and first responders who were on the scene on Sunday night. “I was a fan before this — you know that, everyone in this room knows that, a big fan before this. And, I guess, if you can be more of a fan, I guess I'm even more of a fan now,” Trump told the officers.
“But you showed the world and the world is watching and you showed what professionalism is all about. Because that was fast. Something like that could take place for hours and hours and hours and you can't figure it out, and you should be very proud.” The president added, “You are a real inspiration. This is a rough time but if you didn't get up there so quickly, it could have been worse — it could have been a lot worse.”