Fifty people are dead in Orlando, Florida, following the worst lone-gunman massacre in American history. The target was Pulse, a nightclub founded by Barbara Poma and Ron Legler in 2004 "to promote awareness of the area's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."
The name references the heartbeat of Poma's brother, John, who died from AIDS and it was founded "as a club that is John's inspiration, where he is kept alive in the eyes of his friends and family."
According to officials, 39 of the 50 victims died inside the club; a place, in President Obama's words "where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live." Those 50 killed, and the 53 injured and their loved ones remain at the forefront at our thoughts. Here's what we know about the man who has taken and damaged their lives.
Omar Mateen, 29, was killed by SWAT teams responding to the shootings after a nearly three-hour stand-off in which he held club-goers hostage. He had an AR-15 style assault weapon and a handgun. He was an American citizen, born in New York the son of immigrants from Afghanistan. He was on the FBI's radar since 2013, when he made "inflammatory comments to coworkers alleging possible terrorist ties," and had been interviewed by the FBI three times. According to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesperson, Mateen legally purchased two firearms—a handgun and a long gun—"within the past few days." He worked for a security firm and had a firearm license. His ex-wife said that "he was violent and mentally unstable and beat her repeatedly while they were married."
Despite a claim of responsibility from Islamic State, U.S. officials say that they have seen no immediate evidence linking Mateen to ISIS.
There is 'no evidence yet that this was directed or connected to ISIS. So far as we know at this time, his first direct contact was a pledge of bayat (loyalty) he made during the massacre," said a U.S. counter-terrorism official, referring to a 911 call the suspect made on Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
President Obama continues to be briefed by the FBI, which is leading the investigation. An event he had scheduled with Hillary Clinton Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has been postponed, and he has ordered flags at federal facilities be flown at half-staff through Thursday. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has cancelled her planned participation in a cybersecurity conference in China, returning to Washington, D.C., to monitor the investigation.
Hillary Clinton will maintain her schedule, and at a speech in Ohio will "address this act of terrorism and hate, and the steps she would take to keep Americans safe." Donald Trump will continue to be a horrifying, disgusting monster.
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