Forty-nine people lost their lives and at least 53 people were injured last June 12, 2016 when Omar Mir Seddique Mateen went on a shooting rampage inside a popular gay club called Pulse nightclub. News agencies call it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
According to The Telegraph, Mateen, stormed into the club after 2 a.m. and began shooting people. The gunman took hostages for three hours. Orlando police later penetrated the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed Mateen.
The lone shooter was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, a handgun, and an unknown device which police initially feared was a type of explosive.
US citizen Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, was questioned by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 but was not found to be a threat. He was born in 1986 in New York,
Most of the victims of the shooting were men between 18 to 50 years to old. Majority of the people who died were in their 20s and 30s. The names of the 49 victims have been published in The City of Orlando website.
CNN reported that President Barack Obama thinks that the attack seems to be “homegrown terrorism”. The gunman used legally purchased firearms and there is no current evidence associating Mateen with any terrorist network.
“We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate,” President Obama said. He also added that it was a heartbreaking day for the LGBT community.
However, BBC reported that Mateen called 911 before the attack and pledged allegiance to the ISIS. CNN also reported that Mateen mentioned Boston Marathon bombers when he called the emergency services.
During an interview, Mateen’s father Mir Seddique said that the incident has nothing to do with religion. He believes that His son’s actions were mostly likely triggered when he saw a gay couple kissing in Miami.
Nations express their sympathy
The world pays tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
The US President ordered flags on federal buildings to be flown at half mast until June 16, 2016.
The day after the shooting, thousands of people gathered in Orlando to pay tribute to the victims of the senseless shooting.
Vigils were held in California, Illinois and Texas. In New York, the lights of the Empire State Building were turned off as a sign of sympathy.
One World Trade Center lit up in rainbow colors as a sign of respect for the victims of the Orlando tragedy.
In New York, comedian James Corden opened the 2016 Tony awards with a tribute to the victims. “All around the world people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” Corden began his speech. “On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. All we can say is you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy.”
“Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved,” he continued. “Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle. This is the Tony Awards!”
On June 13, 2016, thousands gathered for a vigil in honor of the victims in Old Compton Street, London, the heart of London’s gay quarter. Restaurants and pubs shut down so that people could go out on the streets to offer 2-minute of silence for the victims. The silence was broken with cheers and applause. People waved the rainbow flag and released balloons into the skies, one for each victim. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party were present during the vigil.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted: “Paris stands with Orlando. Tonight, The Eiffel Tower will be illuminated in the LGBT colours in honour of the victims #lovewins.”
Paris City hall also displayed the US flag and draped the colors of the rainbow to express compassion, solidarity and love.
A vigil was held in Sydney to pray for the people who perished in Orlando.
Pope Francis was saddened by the tragic loss of lives. The Pope prayed for the victims and their families.
“The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred,” the Holy See Press Office said in a statement.
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