A day of anguish and anger: 49 killed by man who pledged allegiance to ISIS; Orlando names 47 of the victims

Twenty minutes after 2 a.m. Sunday, Omar Mateen phoned a 911 dispatcher in Orlando, Fla., and swore his allegiance to the terror group ISIS.

At that moment, Mateen, an American-born security guard who also had strong anti-gay feelings, was embarking on a killing spree at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Police said he would go on to kill 49 men and women and wound 53 more, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Mateen spent about three hours inside the Pulse nightclub using his military-style automatic rifle in the hunt for victims, some of whom hid beneath the bodies of those killed. He died around 5 a.m. EDT, when Orlando police raided the club to end the standoff and save the hostages.

A few hours later, across the country, police took a call about a possible prowler in a Santa Monica neighborhood. By midmorning, Santa Monica police had arrested James Wesley Howell, an Indiana man they say told police he intended to take his cache of weapons and pipe bomb ingredients to the LA PRIDE festival in West Hollywood.

Though the incidents aren’t believed to be directly linked, they highlighted a day of anguish and anger across the country, one that raised discussion on how to thwart Islamic terrorism and a new element – the possibility that gay men and women are being targeted.


President Barack Obama, who spoke to the nation at midday, described the carnage in Orlando as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

The shooting put Orlando on a harrowing list of western cities – including Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino – that since November have been fouled by ISIS-inspired terror and mass killings.

Obama noted that the Orlando shooting was the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, surpassing the Dec. 2 shooting that killed 14 health department workers in San Bernardino. He said he has told the FBI to investigate the Orlando shooting as an act of terror.

The president also took note of the weapons used in Orlando, including a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and a .223-caliber AR-15-type assault rifle, the same style of weapon used in shootings in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and San Bernardino, among others. Federal officials said both weapons had been purchased by Mateen, legally, within the past few days.

“We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be,” Obama said in reference to the availability of assault weapons. “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

While news of the Orlando shooting triggered expressions of sympathy and frustration across the country and around the world, and members of the Islamic community condemned the attack, it also sparked questions on the American campaign trail about how to deal with ISIS-inspired terror.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, lambasted Obama for not describing the Orlando shooting as being linked to “radical Islam,” and he called on the president to step down from office.

Earlier, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the shooting: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Mateen, whose parents are from Afghanistan, was questioned at least twice by the FBI. He was contacted in 2013 after expressing pro-ISIS views to co-workers and again when it was learned that he had ties to an American who, in 2014, became a suicide bomber in Syria.

FBI officials said Sunday that neither incident rose to a level that would warrant a follow-up investigation.

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, issued a statement saying she would encourage authorities to look hard at everything surrounding the shooting.

She included a special message for the LGBT community: “Please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.”


As leaders of the LGBT community reacted to the Orlando shooting with a blend of sympathy for the victims and outrage that their community might be targeted, some noted that June is gay pride month.

It’s why the LA PRIDE festival is held annually in June. The event, which had extra security because of the news out of Santa Monica and Orlando, went off Sunday without incident.

Last June also was the month that the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, a ruling that was a huge victory for gay rights advocates but hardly an end to anti-gay sentiment.

By early Sunday evening, a Florida LGBT advocacy group had raised nearly a half-million dollars for the Orlando victims. More than 11,000 people had donated to Equality Florida’s GoFundMe page in six hours, raising more than $480,000. The funds will go to victims and their families, according to the page.

Vigils were held Sunday throughout Southern California, including events in Santa Ana and Laguna Beach.

“Late Late Show” host James Corden, who served Sunday as host of the Tony Awards in New York, began the national awards show by offering sympathy to families of those killed in Orlando.

“All we can say is that you are not on your own right now,” he said. “Your tragedy is our tragedy.”

In addition to being gay pride month and the one-year anniversary of the same-sex marriage ruling, June also is the start of Ramadan, a key holy month in Islam.

It’s possible Mateen was motivated by both.

Terror experts said Sunday that ISIS online propaganda is suggesting that Ramadan is a particularly good time to target the West. And last month, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani issued this proclamation online:

“Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.”

Some who know Mateen, who say he became religious only recently, suggest he was prone to violence with or without motivation.

“He was not a stable person,” his ex-wife, a woman he lived with for about four months starting in 2009, told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

And Mateen’s Afghan-born father, Seddique Mateen, told NBC News on Sunday that his son’s violent deeds had nothing to do with religion. He said Mateen had become enraged a few months earlier at the sight of a pair of gay men being affectionate with each other.

“We were in downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music,“ the elder Mateen said. “And he saw two men kissing each other … and he got very angry.”

Seddique Mateen hosts a Dari-language political television show, “Durand Jirga,” broadcast over the Payem-e-Afghan channel. On Saturday night, hours before his son called 911, Seddique Mateen posted a video for that show in which he seems to imply he has ruling power in Afghanistan.

In that show, Seddique Mateen previously has expressed beliefs that are pro-Taliban. Under the Taliban, in the 1990s, homosexuality was criminalized in Afghanistan. The punishment was death.


From the city of Orlando website, 47 of the 49 victims of the mass shooting are listed.

On this very difficult day, we offer heartfelt condolences to today’s victims and their families. Our City is working tirelessly to get as much information out to the families so they can begin the grieving process. Please keep the following individuals in your thoughts and prayers. #PrayforOrlando

The below list of individuals includes victims who have lost their lives during the early morning incident, and next of kin have been contacted. As we continue to reach out to the families of victims, we will continue to update this post.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz 24 years old

The Washington Post and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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