Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., expressed astonishment that President Trump would use the tragedy they experienced last week to push back on the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Late Saturday night from his nearby Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump accused the FBI of spending too much time on potential collusion between Moscow and his own presidential campaign. Trump suggested that if the bureau hadn’t been so focused on his campaign that it may have been able to stop the gunman from killing 17 people last week.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
Aly Sheehy, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was immediately outraged when she saw the president shift the conversation toward U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“When it popped up on my timeline, it was something I read and was immediately mad about. It’s not the first time that he has tweeted something out so close to an incident that rocked the nation really that was about him,” she told Yahoo News on Sunday.
“Reading the tweet saying that it was because the FBI was too focused on his problem, that they should’ve been focused on other things. I don’t know why he called attention to that,” she continued.
A day after the shooting, rather than focusing on guns, Trump urged people to remain vigilant and report troubling behavior to the authorities. But classmates and neighbors had reported Nikolas Cruz to the FBI and local authorities. The FBI admitted on Friday that it had failed to properly investigate the matter.
The Russia probe is being led by Mueller, who was not involved in responding to tips about Cruz.
Giuliana Matamoros, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was livid when she saw this tweet from the commander in chief, especially so soon after the shooting.
“When I first saw Trump’s tweet I was furious. I can’t believe that it’s only been four days since the shooting and he has already made it about himself. I thought, ‘He obviously doesn’t care about us’ because he doesn’t,” Matamoros told Yahoo News. “He decided to make the cause of the death of 17 of my peers into something about him. I just really wonder if he ever thought for one second we don’t care about what he has to say. We only care about his actions on making this never happen again.”
Other members of the Stoneman Douglas community were similarly upset with Trump’s response.
…my friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can not believe this https://t.co/JoEasIsu3V
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 18, 2018
Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless “thoughts and prayers”. https://t.co/al9DWBM2AW
— Morgan Williams (@morganw_44) February 18, 2018
There IS collusion, you clown. Get your head out of your ass & do something about what happened AT MY SCHOOL. This is the REAL NEWS. You came to Florida & didn’t talk to me, my students or my coworkers. You had a photo op & played golf. YOU are a disgrace to MY country. https://t.co/INB9sN3A52
— Sarah Lerner, CJE (@mrs_lerner) February 18, 2018
Many Stoneman Douglas students are demanding that Congress and the president take action to confront gun violence.
Matamoros said she is grateful for the support and love that her community has received but urges any citizens who don’t believe in gun control to think twice about what they experienced last week.
“I would like the American people to know that I’m thankful for your support. Those who believe gun control should not be put in place should rethink it,” Matamoros said. “Put yourself in our shoes, it’ll show you the traumatic event we went through and it will show you that we are Marjory Stoneman Douglas strong and we will not stop until there is change.”
Both girls are proud of how their community has responded to the tragedy — by making their voices heard and demanding change.
“I think it’s important that it’s broadcast to as many people as possible,” Sheehy said.
“Our voices need to be heard by everyone,” Matamoros said.
Sheehy was particularly moved by the speech her childhood friend Emma Gonzalez delivered at the Not One More rally outside the federal courthouse in nearby Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday.
“My classmates have already done so much. I’m so proud of them. There’s no word to describe how proud I am of them,” she said. “The speech that Emma Gonzalez gave. I’ve known her since kindergarten. Just listening to what she said, I don’t have words to describe how that made me feel.”
Matamoros could not make the event because she was at a wake for one of the victims. But she heard Gonzalez’s passionate speech after the fact: “It was amazing. I’m glad she’s part of our family.”
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