Fifty people were killed when a man opened fire in a crowded Orlando club early this morning. The shooter is dead. It was an act of terrorism in a gay club. A state of emergency has been declared in the city. The shooter reportedly expressed allegiance to ISIS before the shooting. His father also said he’d been unhappy after his son saw two men kissing. The shooter’s former wife, who left him because he beat her, said he wasn’t religious.
Fifty-three people were wounded. The shooter died in a gun battle with police attempting to resolve a hostage situation. The shooter carried a military-style rifle (AR-15 in most accounts), a semiautomatic handgun and an unspecified “device,” possibly explosive, police said at a news briefing.
The shooter has been identified as Fort Pierce man, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, “known to police,” though not a subject of previous criminal investigations. He’s U.S. born, to a family with roots in Afghanistan. He’d worked as a security guard and had a concealed carry permit. He bought weapons used in the shootings legally.
To the NRA and its handmaidens who say it is too soon to talk about weapons of mass death in tragedies such as this, I say to hell with you. It is too late. The threat of lone wolf terrorists and the asymmetric damage they can deal won’t yield readily to military posturing either.
The New York Times coverage (see below) befits the worst mass killing in U.S. history. Vigils are planned in Little Rock and around the world. Politicians are pointing fingers. My own temporary bottom line: How easy it was for the terrorist to do.