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President Donald Trump praises heroes in El Paso visit after Walmart shooting

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump meet with law enforcement personnel Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, at the El Paso Emergency Operations Center in El Paso, Texas. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised what he said were the many heroes during the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso that left 22 people dead.

Trump added that the suspected shooter “went out like a coward” when he surrendered to an El Paso police motorcycle officer about a block away.

“We are with you 100 percent,” Trump told a room filled with law enforcement officers at the El Paso emergency operations center, the command hub for the response to the shooting.

There were many heroes, Trump said, adding that the shooter “went out like a coward” when he surrendered to an El Paso police motorcycle officer about a block from the shooting.

Under a blistering summer sun, Air Force One landed about 2:30 p.m. at an airfield at El Paso International Airport usually used for air freight.

Earlier in the day, the president visited victims of a mass shooting over the weekend in Dayton, Ohio.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were greeted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and first lady Adair Margo.

Trump visits victims families

Trump visited two families of victims from the mass shooting, but he did not visit any patients from the shooting that are being treated at University Medical Center of El Paso, said an official with the county-operated hospital.

Trump visited one family in a conference room next to the hospital’s large intensive care unit, and visited another family in a vacant ICU room.

Hospital officials Tuesday contacted families of patients from the shooting, and only two families consented to talk to the president, the official said.

UMC has eight patients in the hospital from Saturday’s shooting, including five in the ICU, spokesman Ryan Mielke said.

Trump also met with doctors, nurses, health care technicians and others involved in treating victims as they arrived at the hospital Saturday, Mielke said. They met the president in the ICU conference room, he said.

The White House traveling press pool, which included the El Paso Times, was not allowed into the Critical Care Unit of UMC during the president’s visit.

There was “respect for the office of the presidency. I wish you could be there to see it,” Trump later told reporters at the El Paso emergency operations center about the hospital visit.

“We met with numerous people. We met also with the doctors, the nurses, the medical staff. They have done an incredible job, both places. Just incredible,” Trump said.

‘There are a lot of heroes’

At the operations center, Trump met with Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr., who is credited by El Paso police Chief Greg Allen with saving children during the attack.

“What a job he did,” Trump said of Oakley. “There are lot of heroes. A lot of people who did just incredible work.”

Oakley is with the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bliss.

Trump spoke at the emergency operations center at 6055 Threadgill Ave., telling a room full of scores of El Paso police officers, El Paso firefighters, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, and Border Patrol and FBI agents that there were many heroes that day.

Trump also met with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Tornillo Port Director Donna Sifford, who was shopping on her day off when the gunman entered the store.

Sifford and others are credited with saving the life of El Pasoan Chris Grant, 50, who was shot while throwing items at the gunman in an effort to distract him.

“You did a good job. You know what you were doing,” Trump told Sifford.

Trump also shook hands with another female CBP officer who told the president that she was one of the first responders at the scene, not knowing her cousin had been killed.

“I want to thank everybody again. The job you did was incredible,” Trump said. “We are with you 100 percent.”

The president added that Allen, whom Trump called “one of the most respected men in law enforcement,” could call him if he needed anything.

President’s visit sparks protests

Trump’s visit sparked protests, Trump came to a border city following what law enforcement described as a domestic terror attack motivated by a white supremacist’s anti-Latino hate.

Some El Pasoans felt Trump’s inflammatory immigration rhetoric fueled the violence on a busy Saturday filled with many back-to-school shoppers at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall.

Along the motorcade route, there were a few signs of support for Trump with people waving signs and wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps.

“Racist go home,” stated a large white banner clearly visible by the motorcade on Railroad Drive as Trump traveled to the emergency operations center in Northeast El Paso.

After visiting the operations center, Trump returned to Air Force Once, which departed at about 5:50 p.m. after a visit of more than three hours to El Paso.


© 2019 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.