Donald Trump Says Odessa Mass Shooting ‘Could Have Been Worse,’ Calls Slain Gunman ‘A Very Sick Person’

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Saying that universal background checks “would not have stopped any” of the multiple mass shootings that have claimed more than 50 lives in the month of August alone, according to The Washington Post, Donald Trump in statements to reporters on the White House lawn Sunday morning appeared to downplay the significance of Saturday’s latest mass shooting, saying “it could have been worse.”

After he was pulled over by police at about 3 p.m. local time in Odessa, Texas, on Saturday, a man identified by police as 36-year-old Seth Ator opened fire with what police have described as an “A-R type weapon,” as The Inquisitr reported. The gunman named as Ator then drove around the city firing seemingly at random out if his vehicle, killing seven and wounding 21 before he was killed in a gunfight with police in the parking lot of an Odessa multiplex movie theater.

According to a report by The Midlands Reporter Telegram newspaper in Texas, Ator had previously failed a background check to purchase a weapon. How and from where he obtained the “A-R type” firearm used in Saturday’s mass shooting remained unclear as of Sunday evening, September 1.

“As bad as it was, it could have been worse, but it was certainly bad, very very sad situation,” Trump said in the exchange with reporters, as quoted by the political news site Raw Story.

Trump dismissed the idea that universal background checks would have stopped the Saturday shooting, or any recent mass shooting. It was only four weeks ago that another mass shooter went on a killing spree at a Walmart in El Paso, another major West Texas city, killing 22 and wounding more than 20 more, as The Inquisitr reported.

Instead, Trump appeared to blame mental illness for the Odessa and other mass shootings, saying, “it’s a big problem. It’s a mental problem. It’s a big problem,” as quoted by The New York Post. Trump also described the shooter as “a very sick person.”

In a later statement, Trump appeared unclear on what, if any, steps he planned to take in response to the wave of mass shootings over the past several weeks. “Public safety is our No. 1 priority, always wanting to protect our Second Amendment. So important,” he said, as quoted by ABC News. But Trump also claimed that he would work with Democrats in Congress to “stop the menace of mass attacks.”

Among the wounded in Saturday’s horrifying mass shooting was Anderson Davis, a 17-month-old toddler. Though her injuries included shrapnel wounds to her chest and damage to her teeth, bottom lip and tongue, the child is expected to make a full recovery, according to a CNN report.