President Donald Trump said Monday he would have stormed into the Florida high school to stop the gunman perpetrating the nation’s latest mass shooting “even if I didn’t have a weapon” as he lambasted the inaction of a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school.
“You don’t know until you test it, but I think, I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that too,” Trump told a gathering of US governors at the White House.
Signaling more than one sheriff’s deputy was at fault, Trump said the Broward County Sheriff’s deputies who remained outside the school as the shooting unfolded “weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners” and said “the way they performed was frankly disgusting.”
“The way they performed was really a disgrace,” Trump added.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later said Trump was touting his willingness to be a leader.
Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta if the President has been trained in using a handgun or firearm, Sanders said “I don’t think that was the point he was making. He was saying that he would be a leader and would want to take a courageous action.
“A lot of the individuals that helped protect others that day weren’t carrying firearms, which i think shows that you can be helpful in that process without it,” she added.
Trump has signaled his support for raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic rifles, improving the background check system and arming teachers in the wake of the Parkland shooting, but has yet to back specific legislation that would accomplish those goals.
Last week, Trump called out Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer who stayed outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as the shooting unfolded, saying he “didn’t have the courage.”
On Monday, Trump said Peterson “choked.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper reported last week that three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were also outside the school and had not entered. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said, and not one of them went into the school.
Peterson’s attorney rejected criticism of his client’s actions in a statement Monday, saying “the allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s deputies’ actions were not the only law enforcement actions Trump has criticized in the wake of the shooting. Trump has also lambasted the FBI for its failure to act on a tip it received about the Parkland school shooter before the shooting.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump said in a tweet last week, before attempting to tie the FBI’s failure to its investigation of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.