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Trump visits Florida hospital to pay respects after shooting

Published: Updated:

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited a Florida hospital Friday to offer their respects to the victims of a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school.

The first couple visited Broward Health North Hospital, where a white house official said they would thank medical staff “for their life-saving assistance.”

The pair are also expected to visit the Broward County sheriff's office “to meet with the law enforcement officials whose bravery helped save lives.” Trump’s visit to the hospital had not been announced in advance.

The US leader is spending the long President’s Day holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which is only about a 45-minute drive from Parkland, where the Valentine’s Day shooting rampage took place.

READ ALSO: First pictures emerge of 19-year-old Florida high school shooting suspect

A troubled former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has confessed to gunning down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School north on Wednesday, in the country’s worst school massacre since the horror at sandy hook six years ago.

In the wake of the attack, Trump has vowed to tackle mental health and school safety, but has yet to make any mention of gun control.

Gun laws

While the latest atrocity has reignited questions about US gun laws, Trump -- the first president to have addressed the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby -- staunchly opposes any additional controls.

READ ALSO: ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter’, said Florida massacre accused

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Trump suggested the root cause of the mass shootings that regularly stun the United States was a crisis of mental health -- an argument regularly made by opponents of gun curbs.

Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country -- an average of one a week, according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Since the shooting, trump has faced teary pleas from some relatives of the dead including Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa was killed.

READ ALSO: Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince send condolences to Trump over Florida shooting

“We need action! action! action!” Alhadeff urged in an interview with CNN, addressing Trump as the father of an 11-year-old son of his own.

“Let’s protect Barron, and let'’ also protect all these other kids here in Parkland, in Florida, and everyone everywhere else,” she said.