Reaction to the Florida nightclub mass shooting

- Reaction to the Florida mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub Sunday when police say a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle opened fire before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers; at least 50 people were killed and dozens of others wounded.

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“The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

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“The Vice President was briefed this morning by his national security advisor on the heinous attack that took place overnight at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vice President Biden offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims.  He is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to receive regular updates as we know more.”

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“My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones in this senseless act of violence in Orlando. This horrific attack reminds us that we must remain vigilant here at home against threats of terrorism. It is critical that federal, state and local law enforcement officials work together to get to the bottom of this attack. I will continue to monitor this situation closely as we learn more information. For now, I am grateful for the first responders who quickly jumped to action to help and save others last night, and will continue to grieve for all the victims of this heinous attack.” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee,

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“Today, I’m praying for all those impacted by last night’s horrific attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando. Our nation stands in solidarity with the victims, their families and the City of Orlando. While we are still learning about the shooter’s motivation, this is an act of terror and yet another mass shooting in our nation. It is also an attack on the LGBT community.  We must take every step to keep America safe, which means targeting and taking out terrorists while keeping guns out of the wrong hands. It’s time for Congress to finally act on gun violence and ban military-style weapons, put limits on clips and magazine sizes, ban those on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing firearms and require background checks on all gun sales. We know that the shooter in Orlando used a high-powered weapon that allowed him to fire a large number of bullets in rapid succession. This shooting is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.  I will continue to closely monitor developments in the investigation and be briefed by security officials. Earlier this year I met with local law enforcement in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg to discuss the work law enforcement is undertaking to prevent and respond to terror attacks.” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

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"On behalf of my constituents in Pennsylvania's Thirteenth Congressional District, my deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the victims in this shooting at an Orlando, Florida Nightclub popular with the LGBTQ community. Additionally, my thoughts and prayers remain with those injured in this senseless violence. It is also deeply troubling that this attack happened during Pride Weekend being celebrated nationally this weekend. I am thankful for the Orlando area law enforcement community who acted bravely to prevent more deaths.  At this juncture, it is important that we get all of the facts and evidence correct before jumping to any conclusions as to motive.   But let me be clear, horrific acts of violence such as this will not be tolerated and will only strengthen our commitment and resolve as one country to fight terror both at home and abroad." U.S. Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA-13)

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“The recent violent acts committed in Orlando are horrific and they fill all of us with an unspeakable sadness. Innocent and precious lives were lost in a senseless and evil way. The family and friends of those who perished now shoulder a heavy burden of grief and suffering.

“As Christians, our duty is to pray for those whose lives were ended by the inexcusable cruelty of others and to ask God to pour his comforting grace upon all those who are in mourning.” Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

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   "I wish you and people in the U.S.A. strength and determination so that your country can stand together to come to terms with the grief and pain over this attack." German President Joachim Gauck, in a message of condolences to President Barack Obama.

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   "Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion. Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort. We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity." Statement from the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office.

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   "We are looking at a massacre that has no precedent in the history of the gay community," Rome's Gay Center spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo told the Italian news agency ANSA.

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   "We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country. Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety." Equality Florida.

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   "It's horrific, it's unthinkable. And just hopes go out to all those who were shot that they can recover." Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidate, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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   "Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?" Tweet from Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate. He tweeted about an hour later: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

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   "Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act." Tweet from Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate.

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   French President Francois Hollande "condemns with horror" the mass killing in Florida and "expresses the full support of France and the French with America's authorities and its people in this difficult time." Statement from Hollande's office.

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   "My thoughts go out to the victims, to which I offer my condolences, as well as the many wounded, to whom I wish a speedy recovery. I express my solidarity to the American people and its authorities in this terrible ordeal." French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

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   "We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. 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."  Rasha Mubarak, Orlando regional coordinator for Florida's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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   "Our heart is with our American brothers." Tweet from Italian Premier Matteo Renzi.

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   "Aghast by the ever more dramatic news of the nightclub massacre." Tweet from Italy's foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni.

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   "This morning, I will be marching in the West Hollywood Pride Parade with a heavy heart, but we will march in solidarity with all those who are the victims of terrorism and hatred." Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

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   "Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love." Pulse Orlando on its Facebook page.

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   "I was thinking, `Are you kidding me?' So I just dropped down. I just said, `Please, please, please, I want to make it out.' And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood." Christopher Hansen, who was in the VIP lounge when he heard gunshots.

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   "This is an incident, as I see it, that we certainly classify as domestic terror incident." Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

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   "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and all those affected by this horrific tragedy. We are a strong and resilient state and we will devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando." Gov. Rick Scott.

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Sports world reacts to mass shooting in Orlando
 
   The sports world reacted strongly Sunday to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
 
   Baseball teams across the country held moments of silence after a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday. At least 50 people were killed and the gunman died in a gunfight with SWAT officers, according to police. 
 
   "We begin with our thoughts and prayers for the Orlando community and all of those affected by the tragic events this early morning," Father Geoff Rose of St Francis de Sales High School said Sunday at NASCAR's race in Michigan. 
 
   Many prominent athletes took to social media to express themselves in the wake of the incident.
 
   Shaquille O'Neal, who began his storied career with the Orlando Magic and is the most prominent star to ever play in the city, tweeted "My thoughts & prayers go out to my Orlando LGBT community brothers and sister during this senseless act of violence. Love is Love!"
 
   Current Magic guard Shabazz Napier also chimed in, tweeting "What has to plague the mind of any person to commit such heinous crimes? Life is so beautiful but we always tear it apart. #PrayforOrlando."
 
   Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in NFL history, wrote a short essay on Instagram, stating in part that "50 people lost their lives because of a hateful coward with a gun. Let this hateful act of terror of the #LGBTQ community be a wake up call for America. Men and women of all races, ages, and sexual orientation are being slaughtered because of hate crimes. How many more must die from a hate crime? We need to create awareness to ALL that hate is not the foundation of our nation. Friends DO NOT let this coward put fear into your hearts!!!"
 
   WNBA star Brittney Griner, also using the hashtag #prayfororlando, posted a picture of five hearts in the colors of the LGBT flag, with a red heart split in half. 
 
   Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, asked about the suspension of Warriors forward Draymond Green for Game 5 of the NBA Finals because of a flagrant foul he committed against James in Game 4, began his answer by instead offering condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the shooting.
 
   "I think it's another hit for us as Americans and what we have to deal with in our world today, and it definitely puts things in perspective on basketball. For myself, it's just a small matter of what reality really is.

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Equality Florida Statement on Mass Shooting at Orlando Gay Club

We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2am capacity crowd at Pulse leaving 50 people dead and over 50 injured according to preliminary reports.

We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.

Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.

​We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.

Plans are underway for the following. More details to come.

* The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida is now open and offering grief counseling to those affected by the Pulse Orlando massacre. They are encouraging anyone who needs help and support to please come to the center.
Address: 946 N Mills Ave Orlando, Florida 32803
Phone Number: (407) 228-8272
Website: http://www.thecenterorlando.org/

*For anyone needing support today, you may call the Zebra Coalition hotline at (407) 228-1446 to speak to a counselor.

* OneBlood, the local blood bank in Orlando, has posted an EMERGENCY need for O-, O+, and AB Plasma in the light of last night's tragedy. If any of you have a chance today to go donate blood or plasma PLEASE DO. You could very well save someone's life. To find a donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit www.oneblood.org or call (888) 9-DONATE.

First Unitarian Church
1901 East Robinson Street
Orlando, FL 32803
now through 1 PM

Weingarten Realty
2566 E Colonial Drive
12 pm-6 pm

Orlando Donor Center
8669 Commodity Circle
now til 1 o’clock

West Orlando Donor Center
345 W Michigan St Suite 106
now til 2 o’clock

* A vigil tomorrow pending clearance from police. To receive updates on the vigil with details as we receive them, sign up here: http://www.eqfl.org/pulse_vigil

* A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise funds for the victims and families of the horrific Orlando Pulse Nighclub Shooting: https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

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