50 People Killed At Orlando Gay Club, Worst Hate Crime In American History
Around 2 AM on Sunday, June 12th, the deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida. 50 people are dead, and 53 are injured. The gunman, Omar Mateen, 29, was killed by police at the scene. Law enforcement officials are viewing the shooting as an act of terrorism.
Mateen was armed with an AR-15-type assault rifle, handgun, knife, and an unnamed “device.” More than 300 people were at the club when he arrived. When he began opening fire, several people thought it was part of the music. Rosie Feba, who ran out of Pulse with her girlfriend after grabbing an injured man, told the Los Angeles Times that, “I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.” After Mateen began shooting, dozens ran into the streets; many were held hostage until the gunmen’s standoff with a SWAT team at 5 AM. The club posted an urgent message to their Facebook page at 3 AM, telling people to “get out of Pulse and keep running.”
Mateen reportedly made a 911 call shortly before the attack to pledge his allegiance to al-Baghdadi of ISIS. He was previously a person of interest to the FBI in 2013 and 2014. But his father, Mir Seddique, said that the shooting was based in homophobia, and not religion. “We were in downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music. And he saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry,” he told NBC. “They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’ And then we were in the men’s bathroom and men were kissing each other.” Seddique stated that he and his family were completely shocked by his son’s actions, and apologized for the shooting.
On a live broadcast, President Obama stressed that this is an open investigation, and that there has been no conclusive evidence as to Mateen’s motivations. The president called the event, which took place during Pride Month, a “horrific massacre,” and expressed condolences to the LGBT community. “The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends to dance and to sing and to live,” he said. “The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub. It was a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness to speak their minds and advocate for their civil rights.”
“This is a sobering reminder,” said the president, “That an attack on any American, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us.”
People in Orlando are lining up to donate blood to the victims. Gay men still cannot donate blood, unless they have been celibate for a full year.
Dozens massacred at gay club.
Orlando blood banks put out urgent call for blood donations.
Gay men banned from donating blood in America.
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 12, 2016
On top of being the deadliest mass shooting in American history, what happened at Pulse is also the deadliest hate crime in American history. It was a specific, “organized and well-prepared” attack on the LGBT community. It seems to be no coincidence that the attack took place during Pride Month. Another man was just arrested for bringing weapons and explosives to the LA Pride Parade. The implications of these attacks is extremely frightening.
Shattered this morning by news out of Orlando. Ban assault weapons, fight hatred, don't succumb to fear or to demagogues.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) June 12, 2016
Stay tuned to Milk for more on this developing story.