BuzzFeed reported Tuesday that it had spoken with the families of eight of the 17 people gunned down in the Feb. 14 mass shooting. Of those, seven families said Trump had failed to contact them. Only one — the family of 18-year-old Meadow Pollack — said they had been contacted. Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack, met with Trump at a White House listening session in February and said Trump’s administration had been “very helpful” to his family.
Trump said in an address to the nation two days after the killing that he was “making plans to visit Parkland to meet with families and local officials.” He did call or meet with several survivors, as well as with families of victims, according to earlier reports. It’s unclear how many families those efforts included.
Some relatives of those who were killed expressed disappointment and anger at the president’s silence.
“He just completely ignored us and it’s really shitty,” Debra Hixon, whose husband, wrestling coach Chris Hixon, was shot to death protecting students from the gunman, told BuzzFeed of Trump’s failure to include her family in discussions about gun reform. “I would have loved to have been asked to the table.”
Some families said they were particularly infuriated at Trump’s comments since the shooting, including his remarks at a National Rifle Association convention last week.
“Our entire nation was filled with shock and grief by the monstrous attack on a high school in Parkland, Florida,” Trump said at the NRA event. “We mourn for the victims and their families.”
Philip Schentrup, who lost his 16-year-old daughter Carmen, wrote on Twitter that he was “surprised” by Trump’s comments, since his family “never heard from him, Pence, or his staff since Carmen’s murder.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the massacre, told BuzzFeed he felt Trump used the families’ grief for his own political gain.
“To me, in his position, it would have been the right thing to do, but no one’s obligated,” Guttenberg said. “However, don’t use my daughter’s life for a political moment, and that’s what he did, and that pisses me off.”
Families of Parkland victims have spoken in the past about Trump’s failure to contact them.
“I received no correspondence whatsoever. I received nothing from the White House,” Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son, geography teacher Scott Biegel, was killed trying to save students’ lives, told New York magazine last month. “I got a beautiful letter from Marco Rubio. I’ve gotten letters from other congressmen. But no, nothing from the president.”
Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was killed, suggested it wouldn’t be difficult for Trump to pay the families a visit.
“Any weekend that you come to Mar-A-Lago, you can come and visit us,” Oliver told BuzzFeed, referring to Trump. Oliver noted that his home is 35 minutes from Trump’s resort.
Trump’s shunning of Parkland victims has drawn criticism on Twitter this week, with one person calling the president’s inaction “a horrible, awful new low.”