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UPDATE, 9:30 AM, June 13: Much being made this morning of media reports clarifying that authorities’ reports Sunday’s 50 deaths at the Orlando club had included the shooter, who was killed at Pulse club after a 3-hour hostage situation. Also making some headlines this morning, the walking back of hasty reports, based on a statement published by an agency with close ties to ISIS, that ISIS had claimed responsibility for Sunday’s shooting, which also injured 53, several of whom remain in grave condition this morning.
“The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” ISIS said in that statement, which some US TV news outlets chose not to report, and others had done so skeptically, though some media reported it as statement of fact. President Obama this morning held a news briefing at the White House in which he said authorities are conducting a “terrorist investigation” but there is no evidence at this point that the gunman was directed by external ISIS authorities, and indications are the worst mass shooting in US history was an act of “homegrown extremism.”
Additionally, 48 of those 49 victims have been identified; 36 families of the victims have been notified. Of the 53 wounded in the shooting, more than half remain hospitalized and at least five are in grave condition, authorities said.
UPDATE 2:19 PM: Nihad Awad, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim-advocacy group, held a news conference strongly condemning today’s Orlando attack and politicians who would “score points” off the mass shooting.
“This is a hate crime, plain and simple. We condemn it,” he said. “For many years members of the LGBTQIA community have stood, shoulder to shoulder, with the Muslim community against any acts of hate crimes, Islamophobia, marginalization, and discrimination. Today we stand with them shoulder to shoulder… As Muslims and Americans, now is the time to speak out and make it clear we will not give in to hate and not give in to war.”
Addressing ISIS, which has taken credit for the attack, he said, “You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. You are an aberration, you are an outlaw.” He also cautioned “politicians who may try to exploit this tragedy,” saying “this is not the time to score points. This is not the time to exploit fear. This is the time for unity and strength.”
UPDATE: 1:30 PM: ISIS has claimed responsibility for the shooting, according to Amaq Agency which reportedly has ties to the organization. “The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” ISIS said in a statement, though some US TV news outlets reporting did so skeptically.
PREVIOUS, 12:48 PM: Major League Baseball has announced all teams today will observe a moment of silence in memory of the Orlando shooting victims:
PREVIOUS, 11:04 AM: “Though it is still early…we know enough to say it was an act of terror and of hate,” President Obama said in a five-minute speech from the White House about the early morning slaughter of 50 in Orlando that is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Obama took no question, and today ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half staff at the White House and government and military buildings, bases and vessels worldwide, until June 16.
Meanwhile, the presumptive GOP and Dem party candidates to replace Obama, tweeted:
In contrast to:
PREVIOUS, 10:35 AM: KABC reporting a suspect was taken into custody in Santa Monica after discovering his vehicle contained “explosive powder” and “assault weapons” and that he planned to head to the LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood. The incident was determined to be unrelated to the shooting in Orlando, and today’s parade would continue as planned, authorities say. The city is on “heightened alert.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the incident appears to be unrelated to the early-morning shooting in Orlando that has left 50 dead and 53 wounded and is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Meanwhile Washington D.C. local authorities report they have stepped up security in the city ahead of today’s Capital Pride Festival, TV news outlets report.
PREVIOUS, 9:49 AM: News networks reported additional details about the suspect in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that left 50 dead and at least 53 injured, perpetrated by a lone gunman:
“His name was Omar Mateem. It is a name I will not mention again for the rest of the show,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said of the suspect in the 2 AM shooting at Orlando nightclub, Pulse. The 29-year-old was trained as a private security guard, his parents are from Afghanistan, he was on “on the FBI’s radar,” suspected of being an ISIS sympathizer, though authorities did not have knowledge of a planned attack, Tapper said.
The suspect called 911 in the course of the hostage situation at the nightclub, his support to ISIS, and mentioned 2013 Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The suspect is a private security guard, working for a “major company” that provides services for the federal government, news outlets reported. That security guard license enabled him to obtain weapons with a minimum questions asked, including the semi automatic weapon he had purchased legally in the last couple weeks.
The shooting began when an off-duty police officer working security at the gay nightclub exchanged fire with the suspect at the club door; the gunman ran inside, creating a hostage situation at the packed club. The hostage situation lasted about three hours.
Mateen had been interviewed twice by the FBI in 2013, after he made “inflammatory comments” to co-workers alleging possible “terrorist ties,” according to Ron Hopper, FBI special agent in charge of its Orlando office. Mateen was interviewed again in ’14 for possible ties to an American suicide bomber; FBI found both investigations “inconclusive” Hopper added.
PREVIOUS: “In two successive nights we’ve had killings (in Orlando),” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told reporters in a news conference. “The singer performing live at the Plaza shot down two nights ago and then his horrific act. So what is happening to our country? We are going to have to dig down deep and ask ourselves who we are as a people. We’ve got to think of ourselves as common denominator Americans, not as hyphenated-Americans off on some cause.”
Gov. Rick Scott also held a news conference announcing he had declared a state of emergency in the county where the shooting took place to make sure state resources would be made available immediately to organizations dealing with the aftermath of the mass shooting. He deflected reporters’ questions about gun control: “Right now, this is the time to find out exactly what happened…time to pray for those that have lost their lives.”
Presidential candidates responded this morning:
Early this morning Today show host Willie Geist reported NBC News had contacted the father of the shooter and read his comments on air: “We are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country. This has nothing to do with religion.” Geist said the father “claims his son got angry when saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple months ago and says he thinks that may have caused this.”
And NBC News’ former evening news anchor Tom Brokaw early this morning said: “It should be part of the political debate” and both parties should discuss gun control in “rational fashion.”
Industry reactions began coming as word of the shooting spread:
PREVIOUS The Sunday Beltway shows weren’t, sadly, politics as usual today, as coverage of the horrendous mass shooting at an Orlando gay dance club dominated all news coverage. The shooting, which, at last count, left 50 dead and 53 injured is the worst mass shooting in American history.
“There are a lot of dead bodies in the club,” a tearful woman told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in one of the morning’s most heart-rending moments. Her son was inside the club and unaccounted for, and her emotional interview seemed to leave Stephanopoulos momentarily stunned. At approximately 6:15 AM and 10:15 AM ET, and throughout, ABC’s This Week broke into special reports to cover the shooting, as all of the Sunday Beltway shows scrambled to re-focus.
CNN, like other news organizations, was converging on Florida, with correspondent Boris Sanchez in Orlando, and Erin Burnett, Alisyn Camerota and Carol Costello en route. Victor Blackwell and Pam Brown will anchor from Orlando today. Also Orlando-bound for CNN are Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, John Berman and John Vause.
Fox News Channel plans special live editions of its America’s Newsroom program from noon to 7 PM ET, anchored by Eric Shawn, Arthel Neville, Shannon Bream, Leland Vittert, Jon Scott and Heather Nauert. Chief political anchor Bret Baier will anchor the 11AM/ET and 1PM/ET hours. Continuing into the evening, Fox Report Sunday hosted by Harris Faulkner will be live at 7PM/ET before Bill O’Reilly takes over for a live edition of The O’Reilly Factor at 8PM/ET. Megyn Kelly’s show will be live as well. Legends & Lies, scheduled to air from 8-9PM/ET will be pre-empted.
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) warned Baier “More of these attacks are coming,” stomping for the need to “address it openly and directly, and say directly there is an extremist element within Islam that is dangerous and has to be confronted, we need to slow down.”
For ABC News, correspondent Lauren Lyster started reporting on the shooting overnight; Linzie Janis jumped in to early coverage. Anchor Amy Robach and correspondent Gio Benitez were en route, as were Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, NewsOne Correspondents Marci Gonzalez and Liz Hur, and radio correspondent Jim Ryan. ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross is reporting from New York.
Today‘s Willie Geist contacted the shooter’s father, who, according to Geist, “claims his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple months ago and says he thinks that may have caused this.”
The White House, which said that President Barack Obama will address the nation at 1:30 pm ET, released the following statement:
“The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, 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 shooter was identified by law enforcement as Omar Mateen, an American citizen from Port St. Lucie, Fla. The shooting at the Pulse nightclub, which began at about 2 AM ET Sunday, is being described by local officials as domestic terrorism and a hate crime.
The shooting put Orlando, home of Disney World, in the national spotlight for the second time in as many days, following the murder of The Voice finalist Christina Grimmie following an Orlando concert Friday night.
At the Pulse club, police exchanged fire with the gunman following a three-hour hostage stand-off, killing the man described by the FBI as an Islamist radical. The shooter was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun.
Deadline will have more as the story develops.
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