President Obama on Orlando Shooting: An ‘Act of Terror and an Act of Hate’

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give into fear.”

President Barack Obama spoke on Sunday (June 12, 2016) about the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando that killed at least 50 people and gravely injured dozens more, calling it an “act of terror and an act of hate.” The massacre now stands as the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Making a statement from the White House, Obama said at this point, they are not sure exactly what the shooter’s motivation was, but that he was clearly “a person filled with hatred.” He added the FBI is investigating the incident as a terrorist attack. “Over the coming days we will uncover how and why this happened. This could have been any one of our communities. As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando, today, tomorrow and for all the days to come.”

Authorities have identified the man as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who went into the club around 2AM and opened fire. He was later shot and killed by the police. According to reports, Mateen, who worked in security, had called 911 moments before the shooting to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS.

Mateen’s family, however, told NBC News they believe Mateen was motivated by his hatred for the LGBT community and that “this had nothing to do with religion.”

The president commented on how “especially heartbreaking” this happened during LGBT pride month. He said the place where it happened, the nightclub Pulse, was not just a fun place to dance but also a “place of solidarity and empowerment” where people went to “raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights.”

He continued, “This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us, and the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. No act of terror will change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”

Obama also urged people to be proactive in gun control activism, that this horrible tragedy was “a further 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 this is the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

The president closed his remarks by urging Americans not to give in to terror. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give into fear.”