Grinning Trump gives thumbs-up with baby whose parents were shot dead in El Paso terror attack

Infant was brought for photo op at hospital where patients refused to meet president

Colin Drury
Tuesday 13 August 2019 10:32 BST
Donald Trump brags about crowd sizes during El Paso 'healing' visit

It is the sort of photo politicians have long been known to favour: adorable baby, thumbs-up, big smiles.

Few, however, would surely pose this way in such grave circumstances.

Donald Trump has sparked revulsion on social media after he was photographed grinning with a two-month-old child who was made an orphan during Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso which left 22 people dead.

The infant’s parents, Andre and Jordan Anchondo, were both killed in the supermarket massacre, while he himself suffered broken bones when Ms Anchondo fell on the child to shield him from further bullets.

But when the baby, called Paul, was brought to the US president at the University Medical Centre of El Paso, the 73-year-old appeared untouched by the child’s tragic plight. Both he and first lady Melania smiled for cameras, while the commander-in-chief also threw in a thumbs-up.

Mrs Trump later posted the images on her Twitter account, alongside other images from the visit.

Other social media users were quick to criticise him for both his smile and the gesture.

"This is not how a normal human being would interact with a baby that just lost his parents due to your own inaction," defence analyst ​Brynn Tannehill wrote. "You would hold him and cry. Or at least keep the cameras away while you contemplate."

Neuroscientist Bryan William Jones added: "I am genuinely confused and horrified by this image. Am I taking this the wrong way? Why is Trump and Melania posing, GRINNING, and giving a thumbs up with the infant who’s parents were murdered by the shooter in El Paso. "Seriously… WTH is going on?"

Lawyer, Jamie O'Grady wrote: "I'm not sure I've even been as angry as I am right now. This photo op is disgusting."

Donald and Melania Trump hold Paul, a baby made an orphan during El Paso supermarket shooting

The photo emerged as Mr Trump already faced criticism for his behaviour during his visit to the city on Thursday.

Doctors said he appeared to “lack empathy”, while he was filmed bragging to medical staff – who have spent the week dealing with the aftermath of the massacre – about the size of a rally he had previously held there.

“Then you had this crazy Beto [O’Rourke, Democrat presidential candidate],” he is heard adding in the mobile footage. “Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot.”

The president also drew condemnation for not speaking to the press but instead releasing a highly-polished promotional-style video from his day. It also featured lots of thumbs-ups and smiling medical staff crowding for selfies with Mr Trump.

Little Paul, himself, it was later revealed, had been brought back to the hospital – reportedly at the request of White House staff – having been discharged days earlier.

All eight adult patients who were still at the medical centre refused to meet Mr Trump, The Washington Post reported.

Many in the city hold Mr Trump and his anti-immigration rhetoric partially responsible for the shooting: the suspected killer was a white supremacist who drove more than 10 hours to open fire on a store popular with Hispanic shoppers.

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But Paul’s family, themselves Hispanic, are, it seems, not among the president’s critics.

Speaking to NPR radio, Tito Anchondo, the child’s uncle, and brother of Andre Anchondo, said: “I think people are misconstruing President Trump’s ideas. My brother was very supportive of Trump.”

The boy’s grandfather told Spanish newspaper ABC the family were ”very happy” with Mr Trump’s visit and that the president was ”kind and sympathetic”.

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