ORLANDO, Florida — The deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history took place in the Florida city of Orlando during the early morning hours of Sunday June 12, and left a death toll of 50 people and 53 more injured.
Gunman Omar Mateen somehow managed to enter Pulse gay bar, in downtown Orlando, bearing a pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.
An off-duty officer working at the club had initially fought Mateen in a gun battle. Shortly after, more police officers arrived.
They engaged Mateen, forcing him to retreat to the toilet, where he was holding hostages, Orlando police chief John Mina said.
The shooter called 911 twenty minutes into the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official.
Chief Mina said that statements made by the suspect while he was holed up in the toilet, and information from people trapped inside, had convinced police that further loss of life was imminent.
After Mateen holed up in a toilet with hostages at the Pulse club, police tried to blow a hole in a wall. When that failed, they used a Bearcat armoured vehicle to break through.
After officers broke through the wall, “dozens and dozens” of people emerged from the hole, the police chief said.
Mateen himself came out shooting and was gunned down by police officers.
Who was Omar Mateen?
Omar Mateen, the Orlando Pulse nightclub killer, was a US citizen of Afghan descent who was born in New York and lived in Florida. Mateen was not on a terrorism watch list.
However, the FBI interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for a suicide bomber, Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper said. Hopper said the interviews were “inconclusive,” which meant there was no reason to keep them going but did not expound.
It remains unclear what, if anything, the interviews covered or why the probes were dropped.
Mateen had legally purchased several guns in the state of Florida, just a few days before the attack.
Ex-wife of club gunman says he was mentally ill
The ex-wife of the Orlando nightclub gunman says he was “mentally unstable and mentally ill,” but she saw no early signs of the tragedy to come.
Sitora Yusifiy, speaking to reporters in Boulder, Colorado, says Omar Mateen was bipolar and also had a history with steroids.
She says that in the four months they were together he cut her off from her family and regularly beat her. She says that her family visited her and saw she wasn’t OK and rescued her from the situation.
Yusifiy says they literally pulled her out of his arms. She says she left all her belongings and has had no contact with him for seven or eight years.
She says Mateen was religious, but she saw no signs of radicalism.
Of the nightclub massacre she says, “there was no sign of any of this at all.”
Gunman’s father has a politically charged channel on You Tube
Reports of the political leanings of Mateen’s father have started to come out.
Seddique Mateen, Omar Mateen’s father, has a television show on Payam-e-Afghan, a California-based channel that supports ethnic solidarity with the Afghan Taliban, which are mostly Pashtun.
Viewers from Pashtun communities in the United States regularly call in to espouse support for Pashtun domination of Afghanistan over the nation’s minorities, including Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks.
His show, the “Durand Jirga Show,” has a clear anti-Pakistan slant. The name of the show references the Durand line, the long-disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to a former Afghan official, Seddique Mateen’s show also expresses sympathy for the Taliban, complains about foreigners in Afghanistan and criticizes U.S. actions there. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be linked to coverage of the shooting.
Seddique Mateen, who lavished praise on current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani when he appeared on the TV program in January 2014, has since denounced the Ghani government.
The official said that on Saturday, Seddique Mateen, dressed in military fatigues, used his program to criticize the current Afghan government and announce that he would run in the next Afghan presidential election.
On Sunday night, the authorities started removing bodies from inside an Orlando nightclub where 50 people were shot and killed.
Workers brought four bodies on stretchers out of club Pulse and loaded them into white vans. The action was repeated over and over.
The bodies were then taken to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s office.
Seattle’s openly gay Mayor Ed Murray says that every time progress is made in the U.S., there’s a blow back and an increase in gay lesbian bisexual transgender violence.
Murray says the massacre is absolutely an attempt at intimidation and fear. He says the community will come together and will not be intimidated.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House.
There was Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater slayings, the shooting at Wisconsin Sikh temple in 2012, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, last year’s Charleston, South Carolina, church attack and several others. One of the more recent shootings happened on December 2 in San Bernardino, California, when an ISIS-sympathizer and his wife mowed down co-workers.
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