Melania Trump has welcomed a high school shooting survivor to the White House.
Kyle Kashuv, 16, survived the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed, including 14 students, and several others were injured.
The shooter, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Jacob Cruz, was arrested shortly after.
The First Lady met with the survivor at the White House, greeting him in a hallway in front of photographers, before guiding him to a drawing room where they sat together on a sofa and talked for several minutes.
She listened intently as Kashuv described the moments during and directly after the shooting, which saw students flee after Cruz entered the school just after lunch and fired indiscriminately for around six minutes.
The 16-year-old was one of several students who hid in a classroom closet while the gunman carried out his rampage.
After their chat, Kashuv showed Melania the ReachOut app that he is helping to develop, which allows young people who might feel isolated to connect with other students to discuss their emotional issues.
It also helps students recognise and report any warning signs they might see in their peers.
Melania Trump: First Lady meets Florida high school shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv at the White House
Melania Trump: First Lady introduces president Donald Trump to shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv
Melania Trump meets high school shooting survivor at White House and posts pictures on Twitter
They then took a walk in the gardens before Melania surprised him with an introduction to Donald Trump in the Oval Office. They three of them sat around the president’s desk as they discussed his experience, before posing for photos.
After the visit, the teenager posted on Twitter about his day. “Reliving the moment I met @FLOTUS and then @FLOTUS telling me ‘I’m going to walk you out’ and somehow getting lost and winding up in the West Wing and somehow into the Oval Office to meet @POTUS @realDonaldTrump never gets old. THANK YOU.”
Melania also took to Twitter to upload photos of the visit and describe how much the day had meant to her. “Wonderful to meet @KyleKashuv today. His message of unity is one we should all share. Thank you for visiting us at the @WhiteHouse & hope you enjoyed your surprise meeting with @potus! Wishing you much success w @TheReachOutApp.
The First Lady continued: “Heartened to see children affected by tragedy using their voices to try and create change. Wonderful to meet and speak with Stoneman Douglas High School student @KyleKashuv today at the @WhiteHouse. His message of unity inspires us all!”
Melania Trump: First Lady chats to high school shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv about his experience
The teenager later said he’d also got to meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan during his time in Washington DC, as well as several senators, and had found the whole experience “surreal”.
The tragedy, one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, has sparked renew calls for tighter gun controls.
“Previously I believed that everyone under the Constitution should be allowed to have guns,” Kashuv admitted. “But I now realise that not everyone should have guns and we should have way stricter background checks and mental evaluations. We need to a middle ground and have some reform.”
No new gun legislation has been passed since the shooting, but support has come from all sides to change the rules around age requirements and background checks.