Crowds are gathering in Dayton, Ohio, where President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed in Air Force One as part of a visit to the city following the mass shooting that occurred Sunday morning that left nine people dead. A group of protesters gathered outside a hospital where Trump is set to visit, holding up an inflatable "baby Trump" balloon and signs that say "Do something," "No gun no trigger" and "Go back to where you came from."
Other signs read "Welcome to Toledo!" (a reference to when Trump mistakenly referred to Dayton as Toledo in a nationwide address from the White House on Monday) and showed an assault rifle with a line through it.
Trump has not yet visited Miami Valley Hospital, where the crowd is gathered, although White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed Trump planned to stop by.
"Today, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit Miami Valley Hospital to thank first responders and hospital staff, as well as meet with victims and families," Deere said. A level 1 trauma center, Miami Valley Hospital treated multiple victims from the weekend's shooting.
Trump and Melania were greeted on the tarmac by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and Ohio first lady Fran DeWine, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Mike Turner and his daughter, Jessica Turner, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Gen. Arnold Bunch, Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, and Col. Thomas Sherman. All three Air Force members are stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where Trump landed.
Crowds gather outside a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, where President Trump is set to visit, holding up an inflatable "baby Trump" balloon and signs that say "do something," "no gun no trigger," and "go back where you came from" https://t.co/1RDYTyZEm4 pic.twitter.com/6PAmAmfAyJ— Deena Zeina Zaru 👩🏻💻 (@Deena_Zaru) August 7, 2019
President and Melania Trump arrive in Dayton. pic.twitter.com/7etmzEe6xv— Local 12/WKRC-TV (@Local12) August 7, 2019
Meanwhile, crowds also gathered on Fifth Street in Dayton, near the site of the shooting. WCPO's Hillary Lake reported that chants of both "God bless Trump" and "Impeach Trump" could be heard.
Coincidentally, this clash is occurring right behind where one of the National TV networks is set up. @wcpo. Protestors have overtaken Fifth St making it hard for vehicles to get through, and quite dangerous. I see zero police presence, though doesn’t mean they aren’t around. https://t.co/yFO2BiHf5I— Dr. Hillary Lake, WCPO (@hillarylake) August 7, 2019
Several shop and restaurant owners along Fifth Street are also displaying political signs. One reads: "Our grief is not a commodity. Do something."
Ahead of his visit to Dayton, which precedes a visit later in the day to El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed in a mass shooting on Saturday, Trump said that he does not see an appetite for an assault weapons ban.
During a press conference as he left the White House Wednesday morning, he appeared to downplay any effort to restrict or ban assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines of the kinds used in the shootings, saying there's "great appetite to do something to make sure that mentally unstable, seriously ill people aren't carrying guns ... I have not seen it in regard to certain types of weapons."0comments
Asked about gun control efforts, Trump said he's "looking to do background checks ... they're important," and claimed that there's "great appetite for background checks."
"I'll be convincing some people to do things that they don't want to do ... I have a lot of influence with a lot of people and I want to convince them to do the right thing ... we've made a lot of headway in the last three days," he said, apparently referring to consultations with GOP congressional leaders as he and they face pressure to act in the face of the latest shootings.