Sad and angry, Florida students bash Trump, push for gun control
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Sad and angry, Florida students bash Trump, push for gun control

White House plans meeting with students after school shooting survivors excoriate president, call for anti-gun violence march in Washington

Pallbearers carry the casket of Scott Beigel, geography teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after a funeral service at Temple Beth-El on February 18, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
Pallbearers carry the casket of Scott Beigel, geography teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after a funeral service at Temple Beth-El on February 18, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

PARKLAND, Florida (AP) — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at US President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive.

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“How dare you,” he added.

Student Angelia Lazo holds up a sign while standing near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed on February 14, on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Hogg was responding to Trump’s tweet Saturday that Democrats hadn’t passed any gun control measures during the brief time they controlled Congress with a supermajority in the Senate.

Trump also alluded to the FBI’s failure to act on tips that the suspect was dangerous, while bemoaning the bureau’s focus on Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Trump was at his Florida estate Sunday but did not mention the attack in a series of tweets. After more than a day of criticism from the students, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified students on Wednesday and meet with state and local security officials Thursday.

Florida politicians, meanwhile, scrambled to produce legislation in response to the February 14 attack that killed 17 people. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is being held without bail in the Broward County Jail, accused of 17 counts of first-degree murder.

Maria Cristina and Vincent Collazo pray at the fence that runs around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In a TV interview, Republican Senator Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, center, participates in a church service dedicated to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, at the First Church of Coral Springs, on February 18, 2018 in Coral Springs, Florida. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, a few blocks from the shooting site.

He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP leaders of the legislature this week.

Emma Gonzalez, another student who survived the attack, cited Trump, Rubio and Scott by name in a warning to politicians who are supported by the National Rifle Association.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez (L) reacts during her speech at a gun control rally at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 17, 2018. (AFP Photo/Rhona Wise)

“Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on “Meet the Press.”

The students’ pointed comments are the latest signs of increased pressure for gun control after the massacre.

A woman weeps as she sits outside the Temple K’ol Tikvah before the funeral of Meadow Pollack, a victim of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The students have vowed to become the face of a movement for tighter firearm regulations and plan to visit the state capitol in Tallahassee this week to demand immediate action. They are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities March 24.

Organizers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14.

The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, announced a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

Alessandra Mondolfi holds a sign that reads, ‘gun reform now’, as she joins other people after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse on February 17, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

Not every student at the Florida school was calling for more gun control. James Ciaramello, a senior in the school’s JROTC program, said Cruz was one of his cadets.

On Friday, he paused at a memorial in a park in front of a photo of one victim, 15-year-old Peter Wang, another JROTC student who was killed after holding open a door so others could escape.

“He’s just messed up,” Ciaramello said of Cruz. “I mean, tighter gun control, it’s not gonna help. There’s always a way around it.”

Volunteers carry crosses to be placed in front of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed on February 14, on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

School and government records obtained Sunday show Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally delayed at age 3 and had disciplinary issues dating to middle school. In February 2014, while in 8th grade, Cruz was transferred to a special school for children with emotional and behavioral issues. He stayed there until 10th grade, when he was transferred to Stoneman Douglas. A month after arriving, Cruz was written up for using profanity. Last year, Cruz was expelled.

A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz (center) with public defender Melisa McNeille (right), making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in the Broward County Court, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday, February 15, 2018. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

On September 28, 2016, an investigator from the Florida Department of Children and Families visited Cruz and his mother, Lynda Cruz, after he posted video on Snapchat showing him cutting himself.

The report showed that Cruz had written a racial epithet against African-Americans and a Nazi symbol on his book bag, which his mother had forced him to erase. The investigator said Cruz was suffering from depression and on medication and had told Lynda Cruz he planned to buy a gun, but she couldn’t determine why.

She said he had been depressed after breaking up with a girlfriend who had been cheating on him, the investigator said. A school counselor told the investigator that Lynda Cruz had always tried to help her son and followed through on his therapy and medication, but the counselor was concerned about the youth’s desire to buy a gun.

A crisis counselor told the DCF investigator he had visited the school and that he did not believe Cruz was a danger to himself or others. The case was closed, with the investigator concluding that Cruz was receiving help from his mother and counselors, and “no other referrals or services were needed.”

After Lynda Cruz died in November, Cruz moved into the home of a teenage friend. The friend’s parents told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper they had no idea the extent of Cruz’s issues.

Crime scene tape lays on the ground next to flower placeds at the gate that leads into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed on February 14, on February 18, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the newspaper in an interview published Sunday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”

James Snead added: “Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know. It’s as simple as that.”

The Sneads said Cruz seemed unable to do even simple tasks like laundry or use the microwave.

People protest against the National Rifle Association at the Broward County Court House, during the first appearance in court via video link for high school shooter Nikolas Cruz, on February 15, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (AFP Photo/Pool/Charles Trainor/Miami Herald)

He kept the AR-15 he allegedly used in the massacre locked in a gun safe with a few other firearms. James Snead thought he had the only key to the cabinet but says Cruz must have had another key. The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a few years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.

They told Cruz he needed to ask permission to take out the guns. He had asked only twice since November. They said “yes” once and “no” once.

Mourners leave after attending the funeral for Scott Beigel, geography teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after a funeral service at Temple Beth-El on February 18, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

On Wednesday morning, Cruz told them he didn’t need a ride to school: “It’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Cruz sent their son a few texts that day. In one, he asked what classroom the boy was in. He said he was going to see a movie.

Later he texted he had “something important” he wanted to tell the teen. Then he wrote: “Nothing man.”

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