PALM BEACH, Fl. – Six people were killed at Trump National Golf Club in Mar-a-Lago on Thursday when an armed U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone meant to protect President Donald J. Trump during his frequent visits to the luxurious Florida resort mistook a golf ball for an incoming missile.
Officials say the Reaper drone detected a potential threat near the 9th hole at approximately 9:45 a.m. EST. “Defensive measures were initiated and an air-to-ground Hellfire missile was fired at the perceived source of the threat,” explained Lieutenant Daniel Taylor of the U.S. Navy before adding that the drone’s operators performed “exactly as they were trained.”
President Donald Trump weighed in on the incident Thursday morning accusing the media of exaggerating the extent of the tragedy. “Despite inaccurate reports of a catastrophic loss of life at my resort in Palm Beach today, ONLY TWO CLUB MEMBERS were killed,” President Trump tweeted. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders quickly clarified the president’s statement saying three “non-members” and a caddie also perished in the missile strike. “Additionally, two golf carts were destroyed and a third sustained serious damage,” Sanders concluded.
President Trump, who is expected to spend Christmas at Mar-a-Lago this year, said he believes the victims did not feel any pain. “My generals have assured me it was very quick,” the president told reporters moments before boarding Marine One. “Believe me, they did not feel a thing,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “It’s very tragic what happened but the truth is they were vaporized instantly.”
While authorities are withholding the identities of all six victims until their next of kin can be notified, a spokesperson for the Trump National Golf Club at Mar-a-Lago said the families of “two prominent club members affected by Thursday’s events” will receive a fifty per cent discount on membership fees through 2019 as well as a Trump Winery gift certificate as compensation for their loss. The spokesperson did not specify the value of the gift certificate.