President Donald Trump said Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in South Texas, which left at least 26 people dead and 20 others injured, was the result of a “mental health problem,” and not because of gun laws.
“I think that mental health is your problem here,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo Monday. “This was a very based on preliminary reports very deranged individual a lot of problems over a long period of time.”
Trump added that: “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation.”
Earlier in the day Trump had struck a more conciliatory tone in a statement, calling the shooting a “horrible act of evil” and appealed to Americans to “do what they do best” and unite in the face of tragedy.
Trump’s comments came after a reporter asked the President about gun control measures in the wake of the Texas shooting. At the joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said it was “a little bit soon” to be discussing guns.
“Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction otherwise it would have been as bad as it was … it would have been much worse,” Trump said referring to the armed citizen who confronted the suspect.
The suspected gunman has been identified by two law enforcement officials as 26-year-old Devin Kelley. The gunman is now deceased, but it remains unclear how he died.
The victims, one of whom was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, are between 5 to 72 years old.