US reels after mass shootings

9:59 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

President Trump visited El Paso and Dayton today. Here's what you need to know.

President Trump greets first responders as he visits El Paso Regional Communications Center in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 7, 2019, following last weekend's mass shootings.
President Trump greets first responders as he visits El Paso Regional Communications Center in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 7, 2019, following last weekend's mass shootings. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump and the first lady visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, today — two communities mourning from two mass shootings over the weekend.

In both cities, the President visited hospitals and met with victims' families, first responders and doctors.

We're wrapping up our live coverage, but here's what you need to know about the President's visits:

  • There were protesters: Protesters were in Dayton ahead of Trump's visit. They set up a "Trump Baby" balloon and held signs that read "do something" and "ban assault weapons." Both supporters and protesters came to El Paso. They gathered in crowds outside a memorial and the hospital Trump visited.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized Trump: He said the President has "fanned the flames of white supremacy."
  • Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley called for action: Trump criticized her and said she mischaracterized his visit. She responded: "He is a bully and coward and it's fine that he wants to bully me and Senator (Sherrod) Brown. We're okay. We can take it, but the citizens of Dayton deserve action."
  • El Paso city officials called on Trump to condemn racism: City Councilwoman Claudia Ordaz Perez and County Commissioner Vincent Perez called on the President to condemn racism and white supremacy: "If the President fails to strongly condemn this racially-motivated terrorist attack and fails to call for an end to the use of violence against minority groups by radicalized white nationalist terrorists during his visit, his continued depiction of immigrants and migrants as a threat to our nation will only place our community at greater risk for racially-motivated attacks."
  • What Trump said: After the visits, Trump tweeted, "What GREAT people I met there and in Dayton, Ohio."

8:52 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

Dayton shooter was verbally and physically abusive, sister’s classmates say

Taylor Gould, a friend and former classmate of Megan Betts, said Dayton shooter Connor Betts tried to choke her and put his hands around her neck, when she tried to intervene on Megan’s behalf during a sleepover at the Betts’ home,

“He choked me out for standing up [to] him,” she told the CNN.  

The choking incident, which was first reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, happened when Gould was in middle school, and Connor was a high school freshman. 

She said Connor only let her go after his mother began crying and begging him to stop.

8:40 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

El Paso suspect's mother called police concerned about gun

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The El Paso shooting suspect’s mother called the Allen Police Department weeks before the shooting because she was concerned about her son owning an “AK” type firearm, lawyers for the family confirmed to CNN.

The mother contacted police because she was worried about her son owning the weapon given his age, maturity level and lack of experience handling such a firearm, attorneys Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres said.

During the call, the mother was transferred to a public safety officer who told her that —based on her description of the situation — her son, 21, was legally allowed to purchase the weapon, the attorneys said. The mother did not provide her name or her son’s name, and police did not seek any additional information from her before the call concluded, they added. 

It is not known whether the gun the mother inquired about is the weapon used in the attack.

In response to public records requests for information on alleged shooter Patrick Crusius, the Allen Police Department provided no reports documenting the call from the mother.

The police said in a statement only three minor incidents — one, a false burglar alarm at the family home, another when Crusius was a passenger in a bus involved in a minor traffic accident and a third when he ran away from home but returned 30 minutes later — “are the entirety of our dealings with Mr. Crusius, in any capacity, be it suspect, witness, reporting party, or in any other manner.”  

According to the family’s attorneys, the mother’s inquiry was “informational” in nature and was not motivated out of a concern that her son posed a threat to anybody.

“This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic behaving kid,” Chris Ayres said. “It’s not like alarm bells were going off.”

Family members declined further comment through their lawyers.

Some background: Crusius is accused of opening fire at an El Paso Walmart Saturday killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others. Before the shooing, he posted a manifesto online proclaiming white nationalist and racist views against Hispanics and immigrants.

He has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bond. District Attorney Jaime Esparza said his office will seek the death penalty.

Additionally, US Attorney John Bash said the Justice Department is "seriously considering" bringing federal hate crime and federal firearm charges. 

8:36 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

Dayton mayor on Trump's criticism: "It's fine that he wants to bully me," but citizens "deserve action"

]President Donald Trump (R) greets Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (C) as he arrives at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on Aug. 7, 2019.
]President Donald Trump (R) greets Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (C) as he arrives at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on Aug. 7, 2019. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley reacted tonight to President Trump who accused her and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown of misrepresenting the reception Trump received from shooting victims during his visit to a hospital today.

Whaley told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she didn't understand the President's remarks.

"Look, I mean, I think I've known and watched President Trump's Twitter feed for awhile. He is a bully and coward and it's fine that he wants to bully me and Senator Brown. We're okay. We can take it, but the citizens of Dayton deserve action. And we're hoping that, you know, this isn't a typical politician that's all talk and no action. We want to see and the citizens of Dayton want to see him do something around common sense gun legislation," she said.

Some background: At a news conference following their hospital visit with Trump, Brown said Trump was "received well by the patients," was "comforting" and "did the right things." At the press conference and in an interview with CNN, Whaley said victims were "grateful" to see Trump and that he was "treated well by the victims, for sure."

Brown did call Trump and his past rhetoric "racist." Whaley called Trump's past rhetoric "divisive" and said it was good he did not visit the district where the shooting occurred because of local "anger" about him.

But neither of the two Democrats alleged that Trump was badly received at the hospital.

When Whaley was later shown the Trump tweet in which he accused her of "totally misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital," she responded, "I'm really confused."

7:56 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

President Trump leaves El Paso

POOL
POOL

President Trump is heading back to Washington, DC, after meeting with victims' families, law enforcement officials and other community members following Saturday's mass shooting that left 22 people dead in El Paso, Texas.

He visited both El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, today. Dayton was the scene of Sunday's mass shooting.

In El Paso, Trump visited a hospital and the city's Emergency Operations Center. Protesters and supporters were gathered today at a memorial site and outside the hospital.

7:36 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

El Paso residents react to Trump's visit

El Paso residents are reacting to President Trump's visit to Texas today.

Trump met victims' families at the University Medical Center of El Paso and visited the city's Emergency Operations Center today in the wake of a mass shooting that left 22 people dead at a Walmart.

Just a few yards behind that Walmart, El Paso residents were watching Trump's comments live.

Ben Dominguez
Ben Dominguez Nicole Chavez/CNN

Ben Dominguez, who is a human services investigator, said people need to focus on the good things the President has done during the trip.

"Even though I don't agree with some of President's rhetoric, I think it's important to show that he respects what has happened," Dominguez said. "He's paid his respects to the families. We need to get focused on that."
German Gomez
German Gomez Nicole Chavez/CNN

German Gomez, who owns a car dealership, said he wasn't for or against Trump, "but you do need to respect him because he's our President."

He continued that when it comes to gun violence, he believes it's about the person, not the firearm.

"People are easy to blame the guns. I'm a gun owner and I know it's the person that owns the gun, not the firearms," Gomez said. "We have a divided crowd, but it's our right to own guns."
7:25 p.m. ET, August 7, 2019

Trump criticizes Ohio senator and Dayton mayor during El Paso visit

President Trump thanked first responders during a stop at El Paso's Emergency Operations Center tonight. 

However, he quickly changed his tone and began to criticize Nan Whaley, the Democratic mayor of Dayton, Ohio, and the state's Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

"They shouldn’t be politicking today. I had it with Sherrod Brown. He and the mayor Nan Whaley they asked to go in, 'Could we possibly go in and make the tour with you.' I said, 'Yeah, let’s do it.' They couldn’t believe what they saw. And they said it to people. They’ve never seen anything like it. The entire hospital, no different than what we had in El Paso, the entire hospital, was, I mean everybody was so proud of the job they did. Because they did a great job," Trump said.

He then called them very dishonest, saying, "I get on Air Force One where they do have a lot of televisions, I turn on the television and there they are saying, 'Well, I don’t know if it was appropriate for the President to be here.'"

Some background: Earlier today, Trump, his press secretary and his director of social media accused Brown and Whaley of misrepresenting the reception the President received from shooting victims during his visit to a Dayton hospital.

Facts First: This is false. While both Brown and Whaley criticized Trump's past rhetoric, they were only complimentary about his visit to the hospital

At a press conference following their joint hospital visit with Trump, Brown said Trump was "received well by the patients," was "comforting" and "did the right things." At the press conference and in an interview with CNN, Whaley said victims were "grateful" to see Trump and that he was "treated well by the victims, for sure." 

Brown did call Trump and his past rhetoric "racist." Whaley called Trump's past rhetoric "divisive" and said it was good he did not visit the district where the shooting occurred because of local "anger" about him.  

But neither of the two Democrats alleged that Trump was badly received at the hospital.