As many as 50 people are dead and dozens more have been wounded in a shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Pulse is a gay club, and last night was Latin Night. Pulse bills itself as "not just another gay club," having been founded "to promote awareness about the area's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community" in honor of one of the owners' brother, who died of AIDS. "It hosts nightly themed performances as well as a monthly program of LGBT-related educational events."
The shooter, who has been identified as Omar Mateen of St. Lucie County, Florida, was "organized and well-prepared," according to the FBI.
A police officer working at the club responded to shots fired at 2:02 a.m., and the officer then exchanged fire with the gunman, officials said at the news conference.Here are responses from political leaders.
It then turned into "a hostage situation," when the gunman went inside the club and took hostages. The gunman had an assault rifle, handgun and "some kind of device on him," officials said. At approximately 5 a.m., the SWAT team made the decision to rescue the hostages, officials said. The shooter was killed in a gunfight with those officers.
Information about Mateen is still trickling out. There have been reports that he's tied to Islamic terrorism.
Whether he is attached to any known Islamic terrorist group, this is an act of domestic terrorism. Millions of queer folks across the country feel the chill of this heinous act, because that's how terrorism works.
My sincerest condolences to the surviving victims, to the friends and family of the dead, to the owners of the club, to the local community, and to the entire queer and Latinx communities.
I am holding you in my heart, friends. I am incandescently angry with you, and I grieve with you. I see you. I take up space in solidarity with you, on this day and every day.
* * *
This terrorist act doesn't exist in a vacuum, but in a culture in which half the political leaders openly advocate for guns & queer hatred.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) June 12, 2016
Instead of yelling at me about "politicizing" this act of terror, go yell at the bigots who negatively politicize queer lives every day.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) June 12, 2016
"The shooter was Muslim." Oh. Is it Muslims who are the loudest voices in this country advocating for guns & queer hatred. No, no it is not.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) June 12, 2016
I take up space in solidarity with the Muslim people who will targeted and harmed in retribution for this act, too. And with my fellow people who have mental illness, who will demonized during this search for explanations, because "crazy" is the explanation that gets used so that we don't have to talk about toxic masculinity and easy access to guns.
[As always, let's keep this an image-free thread. Thank you.]