President Barack Obama has given his condolences to the families of Sunday’s Orlando LGBT club massacre.
The president delivered a televised statement on the tragic shooting, which he described as “a horrific massacre… of dozens of innocent people”.
The slaughter of 50 people by 29-year-old Omar Mateen from Port St Lucie, Florida, is the deadliest shooting in the US and could be the largest known single massacre of LGBT people.
Mateen appeared to be inspired by radical Islamic beliefs to perpetrate the murders, and reportedly phoned 911 to pledge his support for Isis before embarking on his deadly rampage.
Obama promised to “determine what – if any – inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups,” adding that the killer “was a person filled with hatred”.
According to Mateen’s father, his son’s murder spree was sparked by a recent incident in which he saw two men kissing, making him “very angry”. Mateen reportedly laughed as he mowed down his victims with an assault rifle and a handgun
The president noted that the event was an “especially heartbreaking day for all our friends – our fellow Americans – who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender”.
Obama explained: “The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.
“The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub – it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.”
Omaba pointed out that the massacre is “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theatre, or in a nightclub.
“And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well,” he said.