Fewer than 48 hours ago, a gunman opened fire in a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded — and reshaping the nation’s emotional and political landscapes.
Since then, we have learned more about what happened inside Pulse during the early morning hours of June 12, in the middle of a celebration of Pride. We know that the gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was “radicalized” through online interactions, according to the FBI. We know that, after his initial attack, he holed up in a bathroom with hostages, staying “cool and calm” as he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 phone call.
But much about Mateen’s motives remain unclear: At the same time he claimed affiliation with ISIS, he also claimed solidarity with a suicide bomber who died fighting in Syria for the Al-Nusra Front, an enemy of ISIS. And whatever inspiration he had from terror networks outside the country, he also hated homosexuality, once becoming “very angry” when he saw two men kissing, according to his father.
As investigators continue to try to understand what led Mateen to carry out the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil, politicians reacted: Hillary Clinton urged Americans to come together and tighten gun controls, while Donald Trump renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., blaming the Obama administration for a lax approach to immigration that has allowed killers into the nation.
In Orlando, people lined up in droves to donate blood to the victims who were fighting to stay alive. And across the nation and the world, people mourned those who died, many of them young people with most of their lives ahead of them.
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