EL PASO, Texas – First lady Melania Trump on Thursday posted previously unseen images of the trip she made with President Donald Trump to visit shooting victims at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, including one photo where she’s holding a baby who was orphaned as a result of the deadly shooting there last week.
In the photo, Melania Trump is holding an infant, who a senior White House official confirms to CNN is the son of Jordan Anchondo, 24, and Andre Anchondo, 23, a young couple who were killed in last Saturday’s shooting at a Walmart. The President is making a thumbs-up sign next to the first lady and is joined by some of the baby’s surviving relatives — the baby’s uncle Tito Anchondo.
Jordan Anchondo shielded her 2-month-old baby in her arms as she was shot, saving his life but sacrificing her own. Andre was killed as he attempted to jump in front of his wife to protect her.
Jordan’s aunt, Elizabeth Terry, told CNN the parents had dropped their 5-year-old daughter at cheerleading camp, before taking the baby with them to shop for school supplies. The story of the Anchondos and their surviving infant captured the tragedy of Saturday’s massacre.
“The baby still had (Jordan’s) blood on him. You watch these things and see these things and you never think this is going to happen to your family,” Terry said. “How do parents go school shopping and then die shielding their baby from bullets?”
In addition to their 5-year-old-daughter, the couple leaves behind another child, aged 2. On Thursday, the littlest Anchondo, dressed in denim with a red plaid bow tie, was cradled by the first lady, as Trump stood beside her, grinning broadly.
The baby’s uncle, Tito who stood next to the President, told the El Paso Times his brother was a supporter.
“I want him to know our family stands with the President,” he told the paper adding he also wanted to share with the President what his brother did to protect his family that day.
The Anchondo baby was discharged from University Medical Center prior to the Trump’s visit, but brought back in order to meet the President and first lady in person, a hospital official tells CNN’s Jim Acosta.
The infant was one of two previously discharged patients who returned to meet the President, who the same official said acted during the hospital visit with “an absence of empathy.” Trump’s trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso were not without controversy, in large part surrounding his rhetoric both prior to the shootings and afterward. In one Wednesday tweet he slammed Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, accusing them of lying about components of his visit.
Melania Trump’s photo of the baby was one of four images she posted on her social media feeds after their visit to the grieving communities — another photo shows the first lady greeting what appears to be one of the younger victims injured, bending over her hospital bed to shake her hand.
“I met many incredible people in Dayton, Ohio & El Paso, Texas yesterday. Their communities are strong and unbreakable,” Melania Trump tweeted. “@potus and I stand with you!”
Prior to her Thursday tweet, the first lady retweeted two tweets posted by the President in support of Dayton and El Paso.
She did not tweet about the weekend shootings prior to that at all on her own, opting not to use her platform to comfort a concerned nation, nor wade into the gun control conversation. Instead, the first lady focused a tweet on August 7 to Purple Heart recipients, which posted as she and the President were in the air en route to stops in Dayton and El Paso.
The first lady has several times in the wake of national or global tragedy acted as the more compassionate voice of the Trump administration. She has several times made speeches encouraging young people to use kindness in their words and actions, and not bully, name-call or promote negativity. Trump has been accused multiple times of hypocrisy by critics who cite the glaring juxtaposition between her message and the actions of her husband.