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US mass shootings: Trump visits Dayton and El Paso

US President Donald Trump has visited emergency workers and survivors of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas – one of two cities shaken by gun attacks that took 31 lives.

Hispanic people were targeted in an apparent hate crime when a gunman in El Paso shot dead 22 people on Saturday.

Mr Trump himself has been accused of stoking hatred against Hispanic people.

He came to Texas from Dayton, Ohio, where he had visited survivors of a shooting in which nine people died.

Mr Trump said before leaving Washington that he was concerned about “the rise of any group of hate… whether it’s white supremacy” or any “other kind of supremacy”.

But the Democratic congresswoman who represents El Paso, Veronica Escobar, refused to meet him, saying his “racist and hateful words & actions” had caused pain to her community and her country.

The El Paso shooting is being treated as a possible hate crime. Much of the city identifies as Hispanic and the suspect is thought to be the author of a text posted online which said “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

The text echoed some of the US president’s language, with Mr Trump having frequently used the term “invasion” to describe the situation on the US-Mexico border.

Police have still to establish a conclusive motive for the Dayton attack but say they have uncovered evidence “that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies”.

Attempts by Mr Trump and others to link the shootings to mental illness have been criticised by healthcare professionals.

On Wednesday, the president said he did not “want guns in the hands of sick people” and was “looking to do background checks”.

What was the mood in El Paso?

Mr Trump and his wife Melania were met at the airport by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo before being driven away.

They spent more than an hour at the city’s University Medical Center talking with staff and victims before travelling to the city’s emergency operations centre.

Some protesters along the route held placards reading “Go home. You are NOT welcome here!” and “Trump hatred, racism not welcome here”.

In comments near the end of the visit Mr Trump said he’d had an “amazing day”.

“As you know we left Ohio and the love, the respect, for the office of the presidency, it was, I wish you could have been in there to see it,” he said.

US President Donald Trump (R) greets Texas Governor Greg Abbott in El Paso, 7 August
Texas Governor Greg Abbott greeted the president

In the city, Ms Escobar and Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke attended an “El Paso Strong” rally, where Mr O’Rourke said the president was “vilifying” immigrants.

Earlier, O’Rourke – an El Paso native – accused Mr Trump of “inspiring” the attack in the city through his “racism”.

Mr Trump had mocked the candidate’s childhood Spanish nickname “Beto”.

Placard reads "Humans and Inhuman", El Paso, 7 AugustImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA placard in El Paso mocking Mr Trump reads “Humans and Inhuman”

As the president was travelling to El Paso Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential ticket, also attacked Mr Trump, accusing him of fanning “the flames of white supremacy”.

What did Trump say in Dayton?

The shooting happened in a part of the city popular for its nightlife in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The presidential couple were greeted at a local air base by Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“I think he heard me,” the Democratic politician told reporters afterwards.

But she added: “I don’t know if he will take action… [on] the need for common sense gun legislation.”

Donald Trump talks with Nan Whaley at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 7 August
Mr Trump was met by Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

The Trumps then went on to Dayton’s Miami Valley Hospital to meet survivors, emergency workers and staff.

“You had God watching,” the president told survivors and families. “I want you to know we’re with you all the way.”

Outside the hospital, protesters flew a “baby Trump” balloon and held signs reading “Do Something”, “Save our city” and “You are why”, Reuters news agency reports.

Protesters in Dayton, 7 August
Protesters turned out in Dayton on Wednesday

“He’s the president and he has a lot of power, and he’s been using it to incite violence, and we need him to use it to incite peace,” an unnamed demonstrator told CBS.

“He’s creating division in the country, and we need to speak up. You know, assault weapons – it’s crazy what’s going on with these weapons, they need to be restricted.”

Trump supporters in Dayton, 7 August
Trump supporters also demonstrated in DaytonSource: BBC

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