A popular gay nightclub in Orlando named Pulse was attacked by 29 yr old Omar Mateen born of Afghan parents in New York. Mateen entered Pulse and began shooting at everyone shortly around 2 AM EDT. The bartender had called the last call for drinks at around 1:45 AM. At first, club participants thought the sounds were due to the music.
However, when the smell of gunpowder and the sight of falling bodies was processed mentally, the people began to run for their lives. The gay club was having ‘Latin night’ celebrating the festivities surrounding the Puerto Rican day parade in New York City. About 300 were in the club at the time. 53 were injured and 50 were killed. This attack is being described as the worst mass shooting in American history and the second worst terrorist attack since September 11, 2001.
Mateen is described by his ex wife and co-workers as unstable. She claimed he beat her and had anger issues. Co-workers claim that he was racist and homophobic. His father has apologized to all for his son’s actions. He apparently had a television show where he spoke on Middle Eastern politics. Mateen’s father claims that his son saw two men kissing in Miami and that this may have set him off. So far it looks like Mateen was homophobic and in league with ISIS.
Twenty minutes into the shooting, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to Isis and its leaders. Moreover, the FBI had investigated Mateen twice, but let him go due to lack of evidence that he was involved in terrorist activities. Mateen worked as a security guard at a local court house. Because of this, he had a permit to carry a gun and was able to purchase the guns he used to carry out the massacre at Pulse.
The massacre has been condemned by Pope Francis and many others. However, the Lt. governor of Texas tweeted that “Man reaps what he sows” insinuating that the gays at the club got what they had coming. He deleted the tweets, but calls for his resignation are underway. Other fundamentalist religious leaders have also praised the killings. Some on Facebook and Twitter even hoped that there were more massacres at other gay venues. In fact, a 20 yr old named James Wesley Howell of Indiana was arrested at St. Monica. He had his car full of artillery and chemicals that are used to make bombs. Howell was apparently looking to attack the Los Angeles gay pride festivities and parade. Law officials claim there is no connection to him and Mateen, though it is suspicious the timing of it all.
The establishment Pulse was described by the sister of a missing man named Jimmy on CNN as having a bad layout. She claimed that there are hardly any exits and that a large entry way is chained off. This may have prevented many from escaping. Many of the survivors hid in bathrooms, under tables and even among the dead bodies. One lady was found under a glass bar. Others escaped via air conditioning vents or ran as fast as they could past the gunman Mateen. Parents who flocked to Pulse were visibly upset as some of them received texts from their kids inside the bathroom as the gunman held them hostage. There were a total of 30 who were held hostage. After a grueling three hours, the Orlando SWAT team broke through the club’s wall with a armor vehicle and engaged the gunman in a shoot out killing him. One police officer was shot in the head, but his helmet saved his life. He has an eye injury though. Prior to this, the police had detonated what they believed to be a bomb. Isis has taken credit for the attacks.
A gofundme page was set up to help victims. Already over 1 million has been raised. To donate, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund.
The city of Orlando set up this website for information on victims: www.cityoforlando.net/victims.
The owner of the club, Barbara Poma gave a statement reading:
“Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today, Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones, please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
Poma started the gay club after losing her brother to AIDs. She named the club ‘Pulse’ in honor of her brother’s beating heart.
This is a tragic time for the United States of America. Once again we are witnessing a massacre. From Columbine to Pulse, there seems no end in sight. I am especially concerned with this tragedy due to the fact that I have old school friends who are gay and moved to Orlando. They frequent this club and some even worked at it. It is sad that a night of some partying has turned to a massacre. While I do not condone the LGBT lifestyle, this does not mean that I do not love and appreciate my brothers and sisters in the LGBT. I am suffering with them. No one deserves to be massacred. The LGBT people are human persons made in the image and likeness of God. They have intrinsic value and do not deserve to be targeted by anyone. Shame on so-called religious folks who are gloating over this tragedy and calling it a “punishment from God.” God is loving and merciful. While He hates sin, He loves the sinner. Sunday’s Gospel reminds us of this where the sinful woman approached Jesus and used her tears to wash His feet and her hair to dry them. While the Pharisee who was sanctimonious condemned her, Jesus defended her actions and praised her true faith and contrition.
May God bless all those affected in this tragedy. May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace. May God have mercy on Mateen who was a lost soul.
The number of the deceased was lowered to 49. The majority of them were Puerto Ricans. Some died with their partners. Witnesses say that Mateen was calm throughout the ordeal. He told hostages to “please stop texting and answering calls” and that there were other snipers. Mateen also stated that he had nothing against blacks. An LA Times reporter spoke to a man who claims he texted with Mateen on a gay dating app and planned to meet and would ask about gay hangout spots. He stated that Mateen would be near his location all the time. Mateen is said to have frequented Pulse according to four patrons. He would get drunk and loud. Mateen may have been a closeted frustrated homosexual or may have been scouting gay venues in order to plan his attack. He may have also planned to attack Disney in Orlando.
Many people have flocked to donate blood for the victims still alive. The lines stretch for blocks. Many of them had to be turned away. Also, many brought in food, water, umbrellas and other items showing solidarity. Throughout the nation, many vigils have been held. In New York City, the Stonewall Inn held a vigil. This is the birthplace of the gay rights movement.