President Barack Obama on Orlando Nightclub Shooting: 'This Was an Act of Terror and Hate'
Obama called the shooting, the deadliest in American history, a “horrific massacre of innocent people.”
Obama confirmed that although it is early in the investigation, “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate.”
“What is clear is that [the shooter] was a person filled with hatred,” he added.
Obama spoke with Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer but stated that a tragedy like this could have happened in any community.
Obama addressed the impact of the attack on the LGBT+ community. He called the scene of the crime “more than a nightclub; it is a place of solidarity.”
“This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American … is an attack on all of us,” he said.
He confirmed that the shooter was heavily armed, and used an assault rifle in the shooting.
“This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub,” he said.
“We have to decide if that’s the country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well,” he said.
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Obama said that in the coming days we will learn about the victims of this tragedy. “Say a prayer for them, and say a prayer for their families.”
“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” he said. “We will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation.”
According to police, a single gunman opened fire just after 2 a.m. local time at Pulse, a popular gay club south of downtown Orlando. An officer working at the club initially responded to the shooter, “engaging in the gun battle with the suspect” before the suspect went back into the club, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday morning news conference.
The shooter held about 30 people hostage for several hours. At 5 a.m., police moved in to rescue the hostages. More gunshots followed, and police also used explosives in an attempt to distract the suspect. Eventually, the gunman, reportedly identified by police sources as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was shot and killed.