Relatives of a married couple killed in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting say they have been swept up in a wave of hate and criticism – including death threats – after being photographed with US President Donald Trump.

The president and first lady Melania Trump visited El Paso last week, meeting with first responders, hospital staff, those injured and relatives of the 22 people killed in the shooting. The first lady posted a series of photos on Twitter, one of which showed the president giving a “thumbs-up” gesture while she held an orphaned child.

It wouldn’t be long before the images kicked off a tidal wave of criticism and vitriol, directed not only at the president’s demeanor in the photo, but also the families of victims for daring to pose with him. One of the family members has spoken out against the heated reaction.

“We should be coming together as a country at this time instead of threatening each other with hate messages,” Tito Anchondo, whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in the El Paso shooting spree, told the Houston Chronicle.

He declined to give more details about the meeting with the president, stating that he had already received death threats after appearing in the photo online.

Anchondo rejected critics who said President Trump was looking to score points as part of a “political agenda,” insisting “He was just there as a human being, consoling us and giving us condolences.”

The man’s two-month-old nephew Paul, who features in the photo in the first lady’s arms, was shielded by his parents during the shooting and, remarkably, survived with only minor injuries.

Tags: ; ; ;