President Donald Trump’s qualifications as a “consoler in chief” have been challenged once again, this time by a survivor of last week’s shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which took the lives of 17 people.
Samantha Fuentes, who was taken to hospital after being shot in both legs, said following a phone call with the president that she had never been “so unimpressed by a person in my life.”
The president had called the 18-year-old senior in her hospital room, where she was also recovering from having a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye. But she said she was less than comforted by the exchange.
“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she told The New York Times after being released from hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.”
Fuentes added that Trump referred to the charged gunman Nikolas Cruz, as a “sick puppy” and said ‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like seven times.”
It is not the first time Trump’s efforts to console someone affected by tragedy has been strongly criticized. Following the death of her husband, Sergeant La David T. Johnson, during an attack on American soldiers in Niger, Myeshia Johnson said she was greatly upset by Trump’s phone call, in which she said he had not referred to her husband by his name. She also said that Trump told her Johnson “knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.”
Trump then turned the situation into a public war of words involving Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson, who heard the president's call.
But the reactions to Trump’s consolation efforts have not been uniformly negative. The president held a listening session with students and parents affected by the shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as other school shootings, this week.
Andrew Pollack, whose son was killed in the massacre, said that Trump met him in the Oval Office and “showed us nothing but love.” He added, “The guy really cared, you know?”
More from Newsweek