50 Killed at Pulse Gay Club in Orlando
Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History
Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History
Omar Saddiqui Mateen shot more than 100 people and took several hostage before he was killed by police in what is being called a terrorist attack. Mateen called 911 at the time of the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombers in the call. He had been investigated by the FBI in the past for possible ties to Islamic extremism. The shooting began around 2 a.m. The gunman ran into the club and took hostages. Around 5 a.m. authorities used an armored vehicle to break down the door of the building and end the attack. "It appears he was organized and well-prepared," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said. The shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and "some type of (other) device on him." (CNN)
"LGBTQ people face the threat of terror daily. The terror of those who sustain heterosexual and cisgender supremacy. The terror of religions that condemn us. The terror of political parties that work to deny us full citizenship. The terror of elected officials and candidates who attack us. The terror of school authorities who look the other way as we are being bullied. The terror of media that spread hate speech. The terror of families who turn their backs on us or who in words or silence make it clear they see us as inferior. All of them have blood on their hands."
-- G. Koskovich, LGBTQ historian and activist
"We cannot fathom the sheer hatred that would lead someone to shoot down more than a hundred complete strangers gathered in their community’s own safe space to innocently celebrate. Last night’s massacre at an Orlando gay bar is the latest senseless tragedy to befall our country and, poignantly, one of our many minority communities who continually struggle for their basic freedom and security. We cannot overstate our sorrow and grief on behalf of all the victims and all who love and care about them.
Sadly, attacks of this nature do not require “radicalism.” Anti-LGBTQ+ hatred is simply too engrained in our country and around the world to be explained away as an exception. Violence of this type happens several times every day in the U.S., but usually on a smaller scale that escapes most of our notice. This crime has brought it once more to our full attention. Be it Orlando, or Charleston, or Colorado Springs, we are reminded all too often that we can be chosen as victims for merely seeking to be our authentic selves."
-- Jason Marsden, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation
“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or a house of worship or a movie theater or a nightclub. We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
-- President Barack Obama
Just hours after 50 people were killed at a Florida LGBT nightclub in what federal officials are investigating as an act of terrorism, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas tweeted a verse from the Bible, mocking the LGBT Community: “You Reap What You Sow.”
YOU CAN WOUND US, KILL US, ATTACK US, PROPOSE BILLS TO TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS. YOU CAN JUDGE US, BULLY US, PROJECT YOUR FEARS ON TO US, YOU CAN CENSOR US, IGNORE US, BUT YOU WILL NEVER STOP US. WE ARE A COMMUNITY OF SURVIVORS. WE HAVE BATTLED PERSECUTION FROM OUR FAMILIES, OUR SCHOOLS AND OUR GOVERNMENTS. WE LIVED THROUGH THE HOLOCAUST, AND THEN A PLAGUE. WE HAVE ALWAYS DARED TO LET OUR DREAMS REACH BEYOND US. EVERY TIME WE GOT KNOCKED DOWN, WE GOT RIGHT BACK UP. THAT IS JUST WHAT WE DO.
Orlando attack: Who was Omar Mateen?
Police have identified the gunman in one of the most deadly mass shootings in modern American history as 29 year-old Omar Mateen.
Authorities say that Mateen attacked the gay nightclub pulse in Orlando, Florida with a revolver, AR15 assault rifle and a suspected explosive device. After the assault on around 320 people in the nightclub 50 were confirmed dead and 53 were taken to hospital, many in serious medical conditions.
Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was born in New York and his parents are originally from Afghanistan. He worked as a security officer at G4S Secure Solutions and while his Fort Pierce apartment was searched by police a neighbour commented to CNN that he worked as a security guard at the courthouse in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Mateen was interviewed not once, but twice by the FBI in 2013 and 2014. According to Ron Hopper, head of the FBI in Orlando, Mateen appeared on their radar after he made “inflammatory comments” to co-workers alleging possible “terrorist ties.”
“Ultimately,” Ron Hopper said, “we were unable to verify the substance of his comments, and the investigation was closed.”
Mateen was questioned again in 2014 about a possible connection with Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, an American known to have carried out a suicide bombing in the Syria conflict. The FBI, again, drew a blank and concluded that there was no “substantial relationship” between Mateen and Abu-Salha – following this, they closed both investigations on him and did not place Mateen on any terrorism watch lists.
According to the BBC, FBI officials said that Mateen appeared to “have leanings towards” a radical Islamist ideology.
Around 20 minutes before attacking Pulse nightclub, Mateen allegedly dialled 911 and pledged his allegiance to the terror group ISIS. According to reports, during the call he also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
In the hours following the horrific crime, Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, told press that he was violent towards her, mentally ill and “obviously disturbed, deeply, and traumatised.”
Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News that his son had become angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami, and he believed that could be related to the shooting.
Police believe Mateen rented a car and drove to Orlando to carry out the horrific attack in Pulse. TMZ report that local authorities believe Mateen specifically chose his target because it was a gay club.
Less than 24 hours after the attack on Pulse, the terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the killings.
In a message posted on a site associated with the ISIS news agency Amaq, they described the attacker as “an Islamic State fighter.”
US officials have cautioned that they had no conclusive evidence of any direct connection with foreign extremists.
“So far as we know at this time, his first direct contact was a pledge of bayat [loyalty] he made during the massacre,” a US counterterrorism official told The Telegraph. “This guy appears to have been pretty screwed up without any help from anybody.” (Gay Times, June 13, 2016)