President Donald Trump’s support of White supremacists, attacks on Mexican immigrants and push for a Muslim travel ban have likely inspired a generation of young White mass killers.
The president’s embrace of White nationalism may have been an inspiration to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old Parkland shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. He repeatedly supported racist ideology in private Instagram group chats, CNN reported. He also claimed to have sent a letter to Trump and received a response from the president.
Trump’s influence appears to reach beyond the nation’s boarders. Canadian prosecutors presented their case on April 16 for a long prison sentence against the 28-year-old man, Alexandre Bissonnette, who confessed to attacking a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. They offered evidence showing that Trump was among the group of right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists that he followed obsessively online.
Among the evidence, Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder, appeared in a selfie wearing a red Make America Great Again cap. Prosecutors noted that he searched for President Trump’s comments 819 times across Twitter, Google, and other online sources.
Travis Reinking, the accused Tennessee Waffle House shooter, is the latest alleged mass killer who may have been inspired by the president. On Sunday, he used an assault rifle to gun down four people at the restaurant, according to Memphis police. He was captured Monday after a massive manhunt that involved local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Back in 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking, 29, for trespassing and being in a restricted area near the White House. He told officers that he needed to speak with the president.
It’s unclear exactly why Reinking wanted to meet Trump. What’s clear, however, is the unavoidable impression that the president has legitimized hate in the minds of some people.