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50 people killed in massacre at Florida gay nightclub

Officers arrive at Orlando police headquarters during the investigation of the deadly shooting at the Pulse nightclub, June 12, 2016. Photo courtesy: REUTERS/Steve Nesius

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) A gunman killed 50 people and injured 53 in a massacre at a gay nightclub early on Sunday (June 12), the city’s mayor and police said, in an attack U.S. authorities are described as a “terrorism incident.”

The shooter was identified as Omar S. Mateen, a man who a senior FBI official said might have had leanings toward Islamic State militants. Officials cautioned that the Islamist tie required further investigation.

The death toll given by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to reporters made the attack the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, eclipsing the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech university, which left 32 dead.

A police officer working as a security guard inside the Pulse nightclub, which has operated in downtown Orlando since 2004, exchanged fire with the suspect about 2 a.m., police officials said.

A hostage situation quickly developed, and three hours later a squad of officers stormed the club and shot dead the gunman. It was unclear when the gunman shot the victims.

“Do we consider this an act of terrorism? Absolutely, we are investigating this from all parties’ perspective as an act of terrorism,” said Danny Banks, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “Whether that is domestic terrorist activity or an international one, that is something we will certainly get to the bottom of.”

President Obama ordered the federal government to provide any assistance necessary to local law enforcement officials investigating the shooting.

Obama was briefed on the shooting by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, the White House said in a statement.

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  • http://www.patheos dot com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/06/12/heres-what-you-can-do-to-help-after-the-orlando-massacre-since-prayers-alone-wont-do-anything/

    Rather than just pray for Orlando here are some things to do. (See linked article for hyperlinks to resources mentioned)

    1) Donate blood.

    OneBlood in Florida says they’re especially in need of O Negative, O Positive and AB Plasma donors.

    You can also donate through you local Red Cross.

    2) Contact your local representatives and urge them to take action on gun safety measures

    It’s been said already, but if the Sandy Hook shootings weren’t enough to make Republicans budge on gun safety measures, dozens of dead gay people probably won’t grow their hearts and minds either. Still, it’s more important than ever before to enact sensible gun safety measures.

    Even if they wouldn’t apply in this particular situation, they may prevent future acts of mass violence. We need better background checks, bans on sales to mentally ill individuals or criminals, bans on certain types of automatic weapons, a way to better track these weapons as they go from person to person, etc. There’s no limit to what we could do, but a tremendous lack of courage by elected officials to do anything.

    3) Do anything you can to promote LGBT equality.

    If the reports are correct that the shooter acted after seeing two gay men kissing each other, it’s a reminder of how much bigotry still exists against LGBT people. Seeing a straight couple kiss in the U.S. would likely never lead to a massacre.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone who would condone the shooter’s actions, even conservative Christian bigots, but it’s easy to imagine that the same crowd will continue to treat LGBT people as second-class citizens, working to deny them the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

    Don’t let them get away with it. It’s that kind of bigotry, that sort of mindset, that leads to acts of violence against those individuals.

    4) Make a donation to help victims and their families.

    Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page to collect money that will presumably go toward helping victims pay hospital bills and things of that nature.

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