The Pulse Nightclub Memorial (c) OutUK
Few LGBT people will forget the events of 12th June 2016, when an armed gunman carried out what was then the
worst mass shooting in U.S. history and the deadliest ever against LGBT people, at the Pulse Nightclub
in Orlando. 49 people lost their lives and 53 others
were wounded in a late night hate crime attack in Florida's City Beautiful.
49 Killed in Gay Nightclub Shooting|
49 people are now known to have died in a shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on the 12th June 2016. A state of emergency was declared, the city's mayor Buddy Dyer announced. 53 people were injured in the shooting.
It is the worst mass shooting in recent US history. Florida governor Rick Scott said it was “clearly an act of terror“. |
An Orange County Sherriff described the incident as a “domestic terrorist incident”, which was confirmed by the FBI, a spokesman said: “Domestic or international, it’s terrorism”.
The nightclub posted on its Facebook page as the shooting unfolded: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running”.
The incident started at about 2am on Saturday night / Sunday morning. It was confirmed that an officer attended the Pulse club and engaged with a “gun battle” with a shooter who was using an assault rifle and a pistol. “This turned into a hostage situation. Multiple officers from various agencies responded. ” said Police. The authorities then detonated a controlled explosion at the scene, which they described as a “distractionary device”. The gunman was named by officials as Omar Mateen and it was confirmed that he was killed after taking hostages.
The White House released a statement saying: “The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”
The suspect, Omar Mateen, was a US citizen from the Florida town of Port St Lucie and was of Afghan descent, was not on a terrorism watch list, although he was being investigated for an unrelated criminal act. |
In 2006 Mateen attempted to join the police. And a colleague in his academy class said he believed Mateen was gay. Mateen had asked him out, the classmate, who did not want to be named, told local television in Orlando.
“We went to a few gay bars with him,” he said. “I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer.” |
Two regulars at the Pulse Nightclub who work together as drag-dancing performers, said they had seen Mateen as many as a dozen times at Pulse, and that he went to the club to escape his home life.
Chris Callen, 34, who goes by the stage name of Kristina McLaughlin, said Mateen began showing up about three years before the attack. “It could be he just went crazy. Maybe he got radicalised and hated who he was.”
Mateen's father Mir Seddique told NBC News that the incident had nothing to do with religion, and may have been triggered by the sight of a gay couple kissing in Miami.
But NBC News reported that Mateen called the emergency services before the attack and swore allegiance to the so-called Islamic State militant group.
There's also now speculation that the gunman's wife knew of attack plans and could be charged. A law enforcement source told Reuters that a federal grand jury had been convened and could charge Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, in the next few days.
“It appears she had some knowledge of what was going on,“ said US Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “She definitely is, I guess you would say, a person of interest right now and appears to be cooperating and can provide us with some important information,“ Mr King told CNN.
Mateen's second wife, Noor Salman, was arrested in January 2017, at her home in Rodeo, California. She was charged in federal court in Orlando with aiding and abetting as well as
obstruction of justice. Federal prosecutors accused her of knowing that Mateen was planning an attack. Salman's trial took place in March 2018.
The prosecution revealed it withheld information during discovery that Salman's confession of helping scout potential attack locations was not true based on cell phone evidence, and that the FBI
knew this even though it had been used to deny her bail. On March 30 the jury acquitted Salman of both charges. A survivor of the shooting called the acquittal "devastating" for
the victims and their families.
A somber President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, met privately with wounded victims and families of the 49 people slain in the Pulse nightclub massacre, telling them, “our hearts are broken, too.” President Obama added,
“Today, once again, as has been true so many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents.”
Funeral directors, florists and pastors offered to ensure that the 49 people killed had a proper celebration of their lives.
Scott Hora, co-owner of A Community Funeral Home called Sunset Cremations in Orlando, said he's heard from a pastor willing to drive from Oklahoma to deliver services, a grocer willing to donate flower arrangements, a casket company willing to offer a discount and a vendor willing to create charms with the victims' thumbprints, free of charge. “We're not going to talk to the family about the money,“ Hora said.
In the 5 years since the Orlando Pulse shooting, President Obama and Vice-President Biden left office, to be replaced by a President who did nothing to halt the violence. There have been
11 major incidents since in which 203 people have been killed and over a thousand injured. They include Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Stoneman Douglas High School, Thousand Oaks,
Pittsburgh synagogue, Santa Fe High School, El Paso Walmart, Virginia Beach and earlier this year the Congress Building in Washington, Boulder in Colorado and San Jose.
Joe Biden as the USA's current President has pledged to bring in a range of gun control measures but they are being blocked by the very same Republican politicians who deny the uprising
of 6 January 2021 in Congress. Those Republicans have also blocked a commission which was going to investigate what happened before and after the deadly home-grown terrorist attack and who was responsible for inciting it.
|The Victims of the Orlando Terrorist Attack|
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Luis S. Vielma, 22
K.J. Morris, 37
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Amanda Alvear, 25
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Cory James Connell, 21
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, 32
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
On the second day of the June 2021 Pride Month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed two support programs for the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando.
Using his line-item veto authority on the state's budget, which allows him to cut back on individual items in the state's $100 billion budget
for the upcoming fiscal year, DeSantis axed $150,000 in funding for The Pulse LGBT+ Center in Orlando. $150,000 in a budget of more than $100 billion
(not $100 million, it's $100 billion, that's 0.00015% of the entire Florida budget). That money would have gone towards mental health
and counselling services for Pulse shooting survivors and the families of those who lost their lives.
We leave you to your own conclusions about this man.
If you wish to contribute please visit The onePULSE Foundation Website.
The Pulse Nightclub Memorial (c) OutUK
Orlando has always prided itself on its tolerance and diversity, and people are proudly rebuilding all that was threatened by the atrocity
of June 2016. Orlando has much to be proud of - a thriving gay scene, Gay Days at Disney World, Downtown Disney and throughout the city, and one of the best Pride Events in the US.