President Donald Trump was asked about the deadly shooting at a Baptist church in Texas during his 12-day trip to Asia. During a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the shooting was an issue of mental health, not gun control.
“I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very — based on preliminary reports — very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries,” Trump said.
Devin Patrick Kelley was identified as the shooter. Law enforcement officials said he opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding more than a dozen others. The church is located just east of San Antonio.
Trump said he doesn’t believe that the shooting was the result of lax gun control laws in the United States.
“But this isn’t a guns situation,” he said. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But, fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was, it would have been much worse.”
“But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. These are great people, and a very, very sad event. But that’s the way I view it,” Trump said.
Trump was referring to two men who chased down Kelley in their trucks and exchanged fire with him. Kelley was found dead in his truck just north of Wilson County. Johnnie Langendorff was identified as one of the men who helped pursue him. The other man has not yet been identified.
Sunday’s shooting was one of the deadliest in U.S. history. On October 1, Steven Paddock opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more.
Shortly after the shooting, Trump tweeted to his 42 million followers: “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”
He later tweeted that “…Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms and through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong…”