By Yanay Rosen (Online Editor-in-Chief).
A lone gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning and murdered 50 people.
The gunman entered the club with an assault rifle and pistol killing 50 and injuring 53. After a three-hour standoff, police killed the gunman. The shooting is the worst in American history since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
The FBI interviewed the gunman in 2013 and 2014, but did not find him to be a threat. The shooter called 911 during the attack and pledged allegiance to ISIS. ISIS has since claimed the attack.
President Obama says that this was an act of terror and hate.
In an address to the nation, he said, “Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, the horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people.”
“We pray for the families who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton says that we must stand together.
“This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country,” she said.
Republican nominee Donald Trump criticized President Obama for not mentioning the role of religion in the attacks.
“Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace,” he tweeted.
“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness and vigilance. We must be smart!” he added.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign says that nightclubs are some of the few places where members of the gay community can safely congregate.
“Places like Pulse nightclub feel like safe havens where they can go and get away from whatever judgment or discrimination that plagues them in their daily lives and be their true and authentic selves,” he said.
“To think of these innocent people – some of them just kids – being attacked somewhere that might have been the only place where they feel free, and safe, breaks our hearts,” he added.
Police arrested a man in Los Angeles later on Sunday after finding assault rifles and chemicals capable of forming explosives in his car. The man told police he planned on going to a gay pride rally.
English teacher Mr. Sanford is uncertain the attack was linked to ISIS.
“I think he attacked the gay and lesbian community because it would make more of a statement. But I don’t think it was an ISIS planned attack,” he said.
Sanford says he still feels safe as a member of the gay community.
“I see this as an isolated incident, as opposed to a systematic plan,” said Sanford.