ORLANDO, Florida, June 12 2016 – Local police, Florida and U.S. government officials are still piecing together the details behind a likely ISIS-inspired, lone-wolf terrorist attack on partygoers at Pulse, billed as the “hottest gay nightclub” in Orlando.
As of 1:45 p.m. ET, the deadly assault, said to have occurred around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, has left 50 dead and 53 injured, some of them critically, according to a statement from Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott. The attack is already being labeled the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The shooting suspect, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was a U.S. citizen of Afghani origin hailing from Port St. Lucie, Florida and was actually employed as an armed guard. Wielding an AR-15 and allegedly claiming to be wearing a suicide vest, Mateen initially opened fire on the popular, crowded Pulse nightclub, which was hosting a special “Latin Night” party. Mateen took an estimated 40-50 hostages when a police officer working at the club responded to the attack.
According to the Orlando Sentinel,
“Dozens of emergency vehicles surrounded the chaotic scene at the club at 1912 S. Orange Ave. after the 2 a.m. shooting and rescue squads were transporting multiple victims to area hospitals.”
Numerous sources report that an Orlando police SWAT team made the decision to rescue the hostages at around 5 a.m. Sunday morning. During the resulting gunfight, the officers killed Mateen.
As scattered reports were posted Sunday morning, Zero Hedge noted that
“NBC’s Pete Williams reports that terrorist was on a ‘watch list’ over associations w ‘suspicious’ people several years ago. ABC adds that Mateen’s parents were born in Afghanistan, and he was ‘on the radar’ of U.S. officials for some time, but was not the target of a specific investigation, law enforcement officials told ABC News.”
PJ Media’s Patrick Poole reports that
“Sources are telling the Daily Beast that suspected killer Omar Mateen had previously been investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014.
“[A] senior law enforcement source reports that Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.”
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting
“Dozens of emergency vehicles surrounded the chaotic scene at the club at 1912 S. Orange Ave. after the 2 a.m. shooting and rescue squads were transporting multiple victims to area hospitals.
“The similarities between the November attack on the Bataclan nightclub in Paris and that the shooter who appeared to target a gay dance club during the Muslim month of Ramadan ‘indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,’ Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said in a statement.”
Fox News later reported that Schiff, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee had more to say about the incident:
“‘The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT night club during Pride, and – if accurate – that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,’ Schiff said. ‘Whether this attack was also ISIS-directed, remains to be determined. I’m confident that we will know much more in the coming hours and days.’
“Schiff said earlier on CNN that local police in Orlando told him that Mateen ‘was heard praying in a foreign language’ at some point.”
An early Sunday afternoon update from Zero Hedge cites a Washington Post report stating that
“…the ex-wife of the 29-year-old shooting suspect said he was violent and mentally unstable and beat her repeatedly while they were married. The ex-wife said she met Omar Mateen online about eight years ago and decided to move to Florida and marry him. At first, the marriage was normal, she said, but then he became abusive.
“‘He was not a stable person,’ said the ex-wife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety in the wake of the mass shooting. ‘He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.’”
Evidence still being collected by police suggests that at some point several years ago, the shooting suspect, a registered Democrat, had become “Islamicized.” He is said to have pledged allegiance to ISIS in roughly the same time period.
Zero Hedge relays this interesting tidbit, gleaned by several sources from “Mir Seddique, the Afghan immigrant father of the suspected shooter,” who later claimed, somewhat ingenuously, that the attack by his son was due to an
“…intolerance of homosexuality, and not affiliations with radical Islam…. ‘This has nothing to do with religion,’ he told NBC, stating that he was ‘in shock like the whole country.’ He went on to relate a ‘recent incident’ that demonstrated his son’s attitudes. ‘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. 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.’”
Notwithstanding Mir Seddique’s observations, a disgust with and hatred of gays has been traditional in schools of Islamic law, and Quranic verses and “hadith” (statements attributed to the prophet Muhammad) “consider homosexual acts a punishable crime and a sin…”
Given that 2016 is a national election year, politicians are already weighing in on today’s horrific incident. In an unusually specific public statement just-concluded, President Obama was quoted by CNN as stating
“We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate…. The “The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terror. We will go wherever the facts lead us … What is clear is he was a person filled with hatred.”
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have also made statements via Twitter, with the Trump statement likely echoing the sentiment of a majority of Americans, whatever their current political persuasion.
Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
The investigation of today’s Orlando terrorist massacre is ongoing.