This information is a current event and not all of the details are clear at this time, however, it is important that people are made aware of the tragedy that has occurred in the United States on June 12, 2016; And for people to honor the victims and their families
On June 12, 2016, a mass shooting occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. 50 people were killed, including the gunman, and 53 others wounded, inside the nightclub. The assailant was identified as Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a 29-year-old United States citizen of Afghan descent.
The attack is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in United States history, the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the September 11 attacks of 2001. The attack was labeled by the Orlando chief of police and Orange County sheriff as an act of “lone wolf” domestic terrorism. Mateen pledged allegiance to the organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the attack, though investigators have not yet found evidence linking Mateen to the group, and cautioned that the attack may have been ISIL-inspired without being ISIL-directed.
On June 11, 2016, Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was hosting a weekly Saturday night event that is primarily visited by Hispanic clientele (Latino Night).
Mateen was armed with a .223-caliber SIG Sauer AR-15 rifle and a 9mm Glock handgun and approached the club. An armed security guard, who was an Orlando Police Department (OPD) officer working extra duty in full uniform, engaged Mateen, returning fire at 2:02 a.m. EDT. Mateen was able to enter the building, however, and began shooting patrons just as last call was being announced. About 320 people were in the club at the time. The officer was soon joined by two additional officers who also began engaging Mateen. Mateen then retreated further into the nightclub and began to take patrons hostage. About 100 officers from the OPD and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office were first dispatched to the scene.
During the attack, people trapped inside the club called and messaged friends and relatives. Initially, some of them thought the gunshots were firecrackers or music. “We thought it was part of the music. It went ‘pop, pop, pop, pop’. But for some reason it was different. I don’t think anyone realized until the fifth or sixth shot and then it was just a domino effect as everybody hit the floor,” Luis Burbano told a reporter. Many described a scene of panic and confusion caused by the loud music and darkness. One person hiding in a bathroom covered herself with the bodies of victims for protection. Some entertainers hid inside a dressing room when the shooting started and escaped the building by crawling out when police removed the air conditioning unit. One of the bartenders said she hid under the glass bar. Many patrons attempted to save the lives of those injured. At 2:11 a.m. EDT, nine minutes after the gunfire first started, the club posted on its Facebook page, “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
Dozens of first responders—including OPD officers, Orange County sheriff’s deputies, and FBI agents, as well as paramedics and firefighters from three fire departments—reported to the scene. A crisis negotiator was present, as Mateen was holed up inside and holding hostages. Officers initially believed he was armed with a “device” that posed a threat, but it was later revealed to be an exit sign or smoke detector that fell down. Due to the nature of the situation, officers said that they had to wait for three hours in order to have a full assessment of the incident, wait for armored vehicles, and ensure they had enough personnel.
At 2:22 a.m. EDT, Mateen made a 9-1-1 call in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In the call, he also referenced Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombers.
At 3:58 a.m., the OPD announced to the public that there was a shooting at the club, and that there were multiple injuries. OPD officials advised citizens to stay away from the area.
Around 5:00 a.m., SWAT officers entered the building by driving an armored vehicle through a wall, then used two flash-bangs to distract Mateen. Mateen was shot and killed in the gunfight, which involved eleven officers. Five minutes later, police said that a bomb squad had set off a controlled explosion. At 5:53 a.m., they confirmed Mateen’s death. Thirty hostages were freed during the police operation, and one officer received a non-lethal shot to his head and was hospitalized with eye injuries. Once the officers got in, they found thirty-nine people dead inside the club and another two people dead outside.
At least 49 people were killed; another 53 people were injured in the shooting, with many requiring surgery in local hospitals. This made the attack the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history, the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in the history of the United States, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the country since the September 11 attacks of 2001.
Thirty-eight people were pronounced dead at the scene, while eleven people were taken to hospitals and later pronounced dead. The nightclub is three blocks from Orlando Regional Medical Center, the primary regional trauma center, and many victims were taken there; two other area hospitals also treated victims. The deaths of the following victims have been confirmed:
1.Stanley Almodovar III, 23
2.Amanda Alvear, 25
3.Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
4.Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
5.Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
6.Martin Benitez Torres, 33
7.Antonio Davon Brown, 29
8.Darryl R. Burt II, 29
9.Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
10.Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
11.Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
12.Luis Daniel Conde, 39
13.Cory James Connell, 21
14.Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
15.Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
16.Deonka D. Drayton, 32
17.Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
18.Mercedez M. Flores, 26
19.Juan R. Guerrero, 22
20.Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
21.Paul Terrell Henry, 41
22.Frank Hernandez, 27
23.Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
24.Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
25.Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
26.Eddie J. Justice, 30
27.Anthony L. Laureanodisla, 25
28.Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
29.Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
30.Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
31.Kimberly Morris, 37
32.Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
33.Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
34.Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
35.Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
36.Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
37.Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
38.Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
39.Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24
40.Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
41.Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
42.Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
43.Luis S. Vielma, 22
44.Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
45.Jerónimo Uribe Moreno, 34
46.Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was identified as the gunman after the shooting. He was a United States citizen born in New York City to Afghan parents and was a Sunni Muslim. At the time of the shooting, he lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Orlando. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, he had no criminal record in Florida.
In 2011 and 2012, Mateen made two trips to Saudi Arabia.
Mateen first became a person of interest to the FBI in May 2013, when he came to the FBI’s attention after making “inflammatory” statements at a contract security guard job; Mateen specifically told coworkers that he had family connections to al-Qaeda and that he was a member of Hezbollah.(Hezbollah is an enemy of ISIL, to which Mateen later pledged allegiance, and FBI Director James Comey noted the “contradictory” nature of Mateen’s statements.)The FBI opened a preliminary investigation and interviewed Mateen twice; Mateen admitted making the statements but “explained that he said them in anger because his co-workers were teasing him.” The FBI closed the investigation after ten months, deeming Mateen not to a threat. Mateen was on a terrorist watch list during the investigation but was removed once the investigation closed.
In July 2014, Mateen’s name came to the attention of the FBI after he was linked to Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, an American radical who traveled to Syria and committed a suicide bombing there; the two men knew each other casually and attended the same mosque. The investigation continued with a focus on Abu Salha.
In 2006 and 2007, Mateen worked for seven months as a prison guard for the Florida Department of Corrections, leaving the position for an “administrative matter unrelated to misconduct.” In 2007, Mateen was hired as a security guard for G4S Secure Solutions, and held that position until his death. The company said screenings upon hiring and in 2013 had raised no red flags. Mateen held an active firearms license and a security guard license. A former coworker described Mateen as “unhinged and unstable” and said that he “had talked often about killing people and had voiced hatred of gays, blacks, women and Jews.”
In 2009, Mateen married his first wife, who left him after four months; the couple’s divorce became final in July 2011. Following the nightclub attack, Mateen’s ex-wife said that Mateen was “obviously disturbed, deeply” and was possibly bipolar; she stated that Mateen was often physically abusive and used steroids.
Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, was quoted as saying that he had seen his son get angry after witnessing a gay couple kiss in front of his family at a festival marketplace in Miami months prior to the attack, which he suggested might have been a motivating factor.
An ATF official said that Mateen legally purchased at least two firearms in Tampa within the week preceding the shooting, but it is not known if these were used in the attack.
Many people lined up to donate blood at local blood donation centers and bloodmobile locations after OneBlood urged people to donate. The LGBT Community Center of Central Florida provided grief counseling for survivors.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina reported that a handgun and an AR-15-type rifle, along with additional rounds, were recovered from Mateen’s body. Mina called the shooting an act of “lone wolf” domestic terrorism. Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said, “This is an incident, as I see it, that we certainly classify as domestic terror incident.” When asked about Islam, FBI agent Ronald Hopper replied, “We do have suggestions that that individual might have leanings towards that particular ideology.” Mina said Mateen was organized, well prepared, and not from the local area. The FBI set up a hotline for callers with information on the shooting.
A social media account connected to ISIL “gloated about the attack,” while ISIL itself has reportedly claimed responsibility for the shooting. These reports were based on the Amaq News Agency, reportedly affiliated with ISIL.
An anonymous US counter-terrorism official said there is “no evidence yet” indicating that ISIL directed the attack or was otherwise directly linked to it. US officials have stated that ISIL may have inspired Mateen without training, instructing, or having a direct connection with him; a number of past terrorist attacks, including the attack in San Bernardino the previous year, have been committed by “self-radicalized” assailants. ISIL has frequently claimed responsibility for attacks perpetrated by the self-radicalized individuals who have pledged allegiance to it, despite the lack of any direct tie. Investigators have said that no evidence linking Mateen to the group has emerged, and have cautioned that the attack may have been ISIL-inspired without being ISIL-directed.
In June 13, 2016, FBI Director James Comey reported that “So far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network.” Comey stated that the Intelligence Community was “highly confident that this killer was radicalized at least in part through the Internet” and stated that the investigation had found “strong indications of radicalization by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations.”
Following the shooting, officers from multiple federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies (including the FBI, ATF, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Pierce Police Department) converged on Mateen’s home in Fort Pierce and another home in Port St. Lucie. A bomb squad was present at Mateen’s home to check for explosives.
The shooting has been described as an example of soft target terrorism, which targets civilian locations with minimal security.
President Obama’s June 12, 2016, statement on the shooting
The Obama administration released a statement sending its condolences to the victims. President Barack Obama directed the federal government to provide any assistance necessary to “pursue the investigation and support the community”. In a speech, the President described the attack as an “act of hate” and “act of terror”. The President also issued a proclamation ordering US flags around the country to be lowered to half-staff.
Florida Governor Rick Scott released a statement of support for all affected, and noted that the state emergency operations center is monitoring the incident. Additionally, Scott declared a state of emergency for Orange County, Florida, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency for the city.
Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature in the Orlando area following the attack, allowing users to mark themselves as “safe” to notify family and friends, in its first domestic usage for the US.
Many people on social media and elsewhere, including US presidential candidates, members of Congress, other political figures, foreign leaders, and various celebrities, expressed their shock at the events and extended their condolences to those affected.
Vigils were held, or are being planned, in various cities and countries around the world to mourn those who were killed in the shooting.
The state’s largest LGBT rights group Equality Florida started a fundraising page to aid the victims and their families, raising $767,000 in the first nine hours. By June 13, it raised more than $1.2 million.
The 2016 Tony Awards ceremony was dedicated to the victims of the shooting, to whom host James Corden paid tribute in his opening monologue. Lin-Manuel Miranda recited a sonnet which he composed in honor of the dead upon accepting the Tony Award for Best Original Score for Hamilton.
A Turkish newspaper close to the current Turkish government published a headline calling the victims as “deviant” or “perverted”, which in turn was criticized by foreign media outlets.