By Allen Cone – UPI
President Donald Trump described the shooting in Las Vegas as an “an act of pure evil” during a short address to the nation Monday morning from the White House.
Trump, who plans to visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with victims’ families and first responders, said in prepared remarks: “We are praying for you and we are here for you. We ask God to help see you through this very dark period.”
Trump said “we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief” over a shooting that killed at least 59 and wounded more than 500 watching a country music concert at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Stephen Paddock, 64, a resident of Mesquite, Nev., died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from the 32nd floor, police said.
“In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness,” Trump said from the White House Diplomatic Room. “The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.”
Trump, during his five-minute address, thanked first responders “for their courageous efforts and for helping to save the lives of so many.”
“The speed with which they acted is miraculous, and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.”
Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on federal buildings. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said he ordered a moment of silence to be held on the South Lawn at 2:45 p.m. Monday.
Earlier, Trump posted on Twitter: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one — and it always has,” Trump said. “We call upon the bonds that unite us — our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.
“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today — and always will, forever.
Last June, Trump spoke to the nation after a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
Sanders, answering questions from reporters at a press briefing, said Trump did not want to issue a statement on gun control laws or his administration’s policy stance on the topic.
“Today is more … a day of mourning,” she said. “And I think that there will certainly be time for that discussion to take place.
“I think one of the things that we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of things from happening.”
Sanders reiterated that Trump is a “strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”