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Terror in Orlando

A complete reconstruction of the worst day in Orlando history



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The scene outside the OneBlood donation center near Pulse. - PHOTO BY CHRIS RODRIGUEZ
  • Photo by Chris Rodriguez
  • The scene outside the OneBlood donation center near Pulse.

Local blood banks reported long lines of people willing to donate, and the Council of American- Islamic Relations Florida asked Muslims to donate blood as well.

"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured," said Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator for CAIR-Florida, in a statement. "The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, the first openly gay official in Orlando, said, "If you think that you're going to stab at the heart of us by doing this horrible, violent act, you're not, because we love."

Terry DeCarlo, executive director of The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, said he just wanted to "wake up" from the nightmare he was living.

"My knees buckled and I almost went down when I heard it went from 20 [victims] to 50," DeCarlo said. "My heart left my body."

As the hours passed, national and international media descended on Orlando. The world learned more about the suspected shooter who drove from Fort Pierce to Orlando.

Mateen was born in New York, and FBI officials say they first became aware of him in 2013, when he "made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties," CNN reports. The inconclusive investigation was closed, and in 2014, the FBI contacted Mateen again regarding "possible connections with an American suicide bomber" named Moner Mohammad Abusalha. They let Mateen go again, and he was not under investigation or surveillance at the time of the shooting.

Mateen worked as a security officer with G4S. Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, told the Washington Post he was an abusive person who beat her. His father, Seddique Mir Mateen, told NBC News he was in "shock" and didn't think the killings had to do with Islam, but with his son's hostility toward gay people. Mateen was angered, he says, over a recent incident where he saw two men kissing in Miami.

"They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, 'Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that,'" the father told NBC News. "And then we were in the men's bathroom and men were kissing each other."

Gov. Rick Scott called the incident "clearly an act of terror." U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said ISIS media claimed responsibility for the shooting, but some reports are pointing to Mateen being a lone-wolf attacker. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said ISIS was seeking to terrorize us.

"I hope they see today they won't terrorize America," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told press in Orlando. "They won't terrorize Floridians. That we stand with and for all Americans, irrespective of their sexual orientation."

President Obama also addressed the shooting, saying he offered Mayor Dyer any resources Orlando needed and calling the mass shooting a "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 theater, or in a nightclub."

"We have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be," Obama said. "And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."

The next day, Obama said the shooting in Orlando was a case of "homegrown terrorism," and that Mateen was influenced by "various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet," the Washington Post reports. 

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