Attacker was a security officer angered by gay people.
An attack on an Orlando LGBT club in the early hours of Sunday morning has become the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history with 50 dead and 53 injured.
The attacker has been identified as Omar Mateen, 29, from Port St. Lucie, which is located 125 miles south of Orlando. Mateen, a professional security officer who had taken some of the club goers hostage, was killed after a SWAT team stormed the club in the early hours of the morning.
Speaking to NBC News, Mateen’s father Mir Seddique announced “this has nothing to do with religion” before adding his son was angry after seeing two men kissing in Miami two months ago. “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country,” Seddique said.
At a press conference this morning, Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, denounced the violence and called for unity. “It’s a horrible tragedy. We are mourning. We are sad. We are heartbroken. It’s not really time for any sensational news and rushing to judgment. As a nation we need to look at this issue of mass shootings, we just had one too many today.”
Club Pulse, in downtown Orlando, was known as a gay venue and minutes after the shooting began staff left a message on the club’s Facebook page telling everyone to “get out and keep running.” Some of the club goers caught in the tragedy left replies on Facebook and took to Twitter.
The local police is calling the attack “a domestic terror incident” and the FBI have also opened an investigation while a hotline, 407-246-4357, has been setup for family members of the victims.
Equality Florida, a statewide organization advocating for gay and lesbian rights, released the following statement in the wake of the shooting:
“We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2 a.m. capacity crowd at Pulse, leaving 20 people dead and 42 injured according to preliminary reports.
We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.
Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.
We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.”
Mateen’s ex-wife spoke with The Washington Post claiming he was mentally unstable and beat her during their marriage. “He seemed like a normal human being,” she told the newspaper and added he was not very religious.
In a televised address to the nation in the early afternoon, EST, President Obama called the attack “an act of terror, and an act of hate.”
The story is developing.