EL PASO — None of the eight victims of the El Paso mass shooting still being treated at University Medical Center agreed to meet with President Trump when he visited on Wednesday, the hospital’s spokesman said.
“This is a very sensitive time in their lives. Some of them said they didn’t want to meet with the president, some of them didn’t want any visitors,” UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke said.
Two victims who had been discharged from UMC and their families returned to the hospital to meet with Trump, Mielke said.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s visit to El Paso was unwelcome for many elected officials and other El Pasoans, who believe Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants and the border has emboldened anti-immigrant groups. The suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, is believed to have written an anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic manifesto before the shooting.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president and first lady Melania Trump met with “victims of the tragedy while at the hospital” and were “received very warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them. It was a moving visit for all involved.”
The White House did not allow independent journalists to observe the Trumps’ hospital visit, but Grisham pointed to a video released by the White House as evidence of the president’s reception at the hospital.
Following his visit, Trump tweeted, “The love, respect enthusiasm were there for all to see. They have been through so much. Sad!”
Five people are in critical condition at UMC and three are in serious condition.
Fifteen victims of the Walmart attack were taken to UMC on Saturday, including one who died shortly after arriving.
The hospitalized patients also declined to meet with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who came to UMC on Wednesday, Mielke said. Cruz did meet with staff in the hospital’s emergency department, he said.
A spokeswoman for Cruz said he met on Wednesday with several patients and families at Del Sol Medical Center, the other hospital treating shooting victims.
A number of elected officials have visited with the victims in recent days. Before Trump’s visit Wednesday, a number of city and county elected officials met with some of the hospitalized victims, as did Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) and Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.)
Escobar has been visiting victims and their families at UMC each day since Sunday. She said she’s met with six patients and the families of three others who aren’t able to communicate because of medical treatment.
“The first couple days were very difficult because people were in a lot of emotional and physical pain. They have since become so cathartic and beautiful and have given me so much hope,” Escobar said.
El Paso City Council member Claudia Ordaz Perez was among a group of local elected officials who accompanied Escobar and Garcia on Wednesday morning. She said she met with two patients, a man and a woman, and their families.
“Their spirits are just incredible. They were very grateful to see the support from this community and they were grateful to see us there,” Perez said.