President Trump Says Texas Church Shootings Were ‘Mental Health Problem at the Highest Level’

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump, in the midst of a trip to Asia, blamed the shootings at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on a “mental health problem at the highest level.”

At least 26 people were killed when a gunman opened fire during Sunday services.

“I think that mental health is your problem here,” Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “This was a very … very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.”

The shooting took place at First Baptist Church, a small congregation in the town with a population of less than 1,000. The shooter was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26. He was found dead in his vehicle after a brief chase, but it was unclear if his gunshot wound was self inflicted. Authorities said that he was armed with a military-style weapon, and dressed in black tactical gear and a vest.

Trump said that the shooting “isn’t a guns situation. I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But 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.”

One resident grabbed a rifle and engaged the gunman, and the suspect dropped his weapon and fled, authorities said.

The shooter reportedly had a bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Air Force three years ago, and was court martialed for domestic assault on his wife and child.

The shooting was the fifth deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Three of the deadliest mass shootings have taken place in the past 18 months.

Earlier, Trump called the Texas massacre a “horrific shooting,” and said that his “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families in today’s horrible…attack.”

He said that the “pain and grief we all feel cannot begin to imagine the suffering” of those who lost friends and relatives.

“Americans will do what we do best. We pull together and join hands and lock arms, and through the tears and sadness, we stand strong,” he said.

“All Americans pray to God to help the wounded and the families of the victims.”