As the bartenders at Pulse Club in Orlando, Florida, were shouting out ‘last call’ in the early hours of Sunday morning, Omar Mateen opened fire, killing 50 people in the worst terror attack in America since 9-11, almost 15 years ago. 50 people were killed and 53 were injured in the worst mass shooting in American history. Around 2 am, after killing people inside the club, Mateen exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club then went back inside and took hostages.
320 people were in the club, a discotheque with an LGBT clientele, when the shooting began. Mateen reportedly called 911 around the time of the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mention the Boston bombers. After entering the club, Mateen took at least 30 people hostage inside the club. Around 5 a.m., authorities used an armored vehicle and controlled explosion to break down the door of the building. One officer was shot in the head when he confronted Mateen but his helmet saved his life. Mateen was killed in the ensuing shootout with police.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said early Sunday. The shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and “some type of (other) device on him.” A bomb-disposal robot was filmed at the scene.
Mateen, the 29 year-old Muslim son of immigrants from Afghanistan, was born in 1986 in New York and lived in Port Saint Lucie, FL. . He added Mateen to his name, Omar Mir Seddique, several years ago. Father to a three-year-old son, Mateen was married to Sitora Alisherzoda Yusufiy, who was born in Uzbekistan, in 2009. He worked a job in security while attending Indian River State College, and had an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Mateen had a Florida security officer license, a Statewide Firearms License, was trained in firearms, and legally purchased a Glock pistol found at the scene two weeks before the shooting.
Mir Seddique, the father of the killer, said it was intolerance of homosexuality, and not affiliations with radical Islam, that likely provoked the attack. “This has nothing to do with religion,” he told NBC.
US President Barack Obama addressed the nation, calling the attack, “an act of terror and an act of hate”. He said , “There are no definitive judgments on the precise motivations of the killer,” but added that, “the FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism”.
Assistant FBI Agent in Charge Ronald Hopper said Mateen made ‘threats in the past that he has ties to terrorist organizations’. An investigation was opened into the 29-year-old, but the case was closed when no evidence appeared to warrant further probing.
Still mourning from a deadly attack that killed four, dozens of people held a vigil in Tel Aviv, showing solidarity with the people of Orlando.
“In the name of the government of Israel and the citizens of Israel I send our sincere condolences to the American people following the criminal attack on the LGBT community last night in Orlando,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
Orlando is thousands of miles from Israel, but the tragedy there has deeply saddened me. We Israelis feel your pain as if it were our own.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) June 12, 2016
“Israel stands shoulder to shoulder alongside the United States at this moment of tragic loss,” Netanyahu added. “We send our heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and wish a full and speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Tel Aviv’s city hall was lit up with the colors of the American flag.