Americans awoke Sunday morning to the horrific news that at least 50 people had lost their lives in an early morning mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooter was identified as Omar Mir Seddique Matenn an American Muslim, who was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) as he shot people.
Shooter Pledged ISIS Allegiance
CNN reported that the shooter called 911 during the attack and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. He also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers. Orlando police shot and killed Mateen, but not until after he had killed at least 50 people and wounded at least another 50 persons. Police reports indicated that the first shots were fired in the crowded nightclub about 2 a.m. and a three-hour standoff ensued before police entered the building and fatally shot the lone gunman. At least one police officer was injured. The shooter was armed with an assault rifle and handgun.
The Washington Post reported that the Islamic State-linked Amaq New Agency said the Orlando shooting “was carried out by an Islamic State fighter.” The FBI stated that Mateen had come to its attention in both 2013 and 2014 as a potential terrorist risk, but the interviews were inconclusive.
Deadliest Mass Shooting is U.S. History
The shooting at the Pulse nightclub was the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history. Before Sunday, the deadliest event was the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech. Last October a shooting occurred at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that killed eight people, and 14 people died in the San Bernardino terrorist attack on December 2, 2015.
There are many unanswered questions about Sunday’s events. How did a lone gunman kill and wound so many people inside the club and then hold dozens of hostages for nearly three hours? Did the shooter target the well-known gay nightclub as a hate crime? What happened during the three-hour window before police finally entered the club?
Politicians React to Shooting
President Barack Obama called the shooting “an act of terror and an act of hate.” The President said it was “an attack on all of us.”
Sunday was an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.
Hillary Clinton said, “we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad.” Clinton also called for stricter gun control laws saying the incident "reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”
Donald Trump issued a statement saying: "Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen - and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can't afford to be politically correct anymore." Trump also criticized Obama for refusing to use the words “Radical Islam” to describe terrorist attacks.
The coming days will be filled with ideas for stricter gun control laws, increased surveillance of American Muslims, and ideas of how to take the fight directly to ISIS. But, those discussions are for the days ahead. Today is a time for mourning the victims of this senseless massacre of 50 of our fellow citizens who were doing nothing more than celebrating life.