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East County News Service

Photo: Memorial in Hillcrest, posted on Twitter by Shawn Van Diver

June 12, 2016 (San Diego) -- The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history is being investigated as both a terror attack and a hate crime.  Omar Mateen, 29, a U.S. citizen born to Afghan immigrants, killed 50 people and injured 53 during a gay pride celebration at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida early this morning. 

The gunman called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic state before the massacre, the FBI has indicated.

The massacre has prompted outpourings of sympathy across the nation and here in San Diego.

Mateen worked as an armed guard for the security firm G4S. He had twice been questioned by FBI agents in the past for suspected terrorist ties but was cleared. In the days before the attack, he purchased an AR-15 style assault weapon and a handgun.   A SWAT team ultimately knocked out a wall and law enforcement officers risked their lives to enter the nightclub and rescue numerous people, also killing the gunman, ABC news reports.

Mateen’s wife has said he was mentally ill and that her family rescued her  after Mateen beat her and held her against her will.  The shooter's father has said Mateen became enraged after seeing two men kissing in Miami.

In a separate incident, Santa Monica police found possible explosives, weapons and ammunition in the car of a man from Indiana who told an officer he wanted to harm a Gay Pride event in Los Angeles, per the Santa Monica police chief’s Twitter account. It is unknown if either the Santa Monica or Orlando suspect were working directly for ISIS, though ISIS has claimed after the shooting that Mateen was a member of ISIS.

President Obama ordered flags nationwide flown at half mast to honor the victims. He called the shooting an “act of terror” that served as a "sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us."  Speaking at the White House, he added,  "No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans."

The President also noted that the tragedy again shows how easy it is for someone to purchase assault-type weapons that can slaughter people in “a school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub….We have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be," Obama added. "And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."  Congress has repeatedly blocked the President’s efforts to restrict access to assault weapons, as well as to require background checks.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement regarding the shooting today in Orlando, Florida: "Anne and I were deeply saddened to learn of this absolutely senseless shooting and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. We stand with the people of Orlando and the entire LGBTQ community in solidarity against these acts of hatred."  Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff in recognition of the victims and their families.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump sent out a tweet reading, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign responded with this statement: “"Hillary Clinton has a comprehensive plan to combat ISIS at home and abroad and will be talking to the American people in the coming days about steps she would take to keep the country safe. In contrast, Donald Trump put out political attacks, weak platitudes and self-congratulations. Trump has offered no real plans to keep our nation safe and no outreach to the Americans targeted, just insults and attacks. In times of crisis more than ever, Americans are looking for leadership and deserve better."

In San Diego, a vigil drew a largte crowd tonight in Hillcrest. Another vigil is planned Monday by the LGBT Community Center, which plans a candlelight vigil.  According to a Facebook event, the doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with a short program. The vigil will stop at the Hillcrest Pride Flag and end at Rich’s San Diego. “Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join us to stand together and unite in support of all those affected by this tragedy,” the group’s message states.

There is a GoFundMe page set up for those who wish to make donations to the victims of the Orlando mass shootings.

In Orlando, the community turned out to offer overwhelming support to victims of the mass shooting. People lined up for over a mile to donate blood; restaurants offered food  and makeshift memorials  with flowers swiftly formed.

San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman offered “hearts and prayers” for all those affected by the horrific mass shooting in Orlando.  While quick to note that there are no known threats in San Diego, she assured that SDPD is working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to “ensure we remain safe as a region. As a precautionary measure and until further information is known, we have increased our security posture in the City. We will focus particularly in mass gather locations. We want all San Diegans and their guests to feel safe.” She also urged people to report any suspicious activity.

San Diego’s Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer  sent this message on Twitter: “San Diego stands united with the people of Orlando. Our sincere condolences to the families affected by this horrible act of violence.”

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, who is gay, indicated he reacted with “shock, tears, anger,” Times of San Diego reported.  He added, “Words fail when trying to comprehend the attack on Orlando gay bar. Ask San Diegans to keep victims in your hearts.”

Shawn Van Diver wrote on Twitter after tonight’s memorial in Hillcrest, “So proud of my neighborhood. #Hillcrest coming together with city leaders in support of #OrlandoShooting victims.”

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Worst Mass Shooting? Hardly.

Reporting the Orlando shooting as the worst mass shooting in US history is incorrect by a factor of 6. The REAL worst mass shooting took place in Opalousa Louisiana in 1868 when 300 blacks were murdered for trying to vote. Please research your facts before blindly repeating mainstream media feeds.

Good point. We've posted a new story on worst mass shootings

and changed the wording in our story to say Orlando was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S.history (most accurately, worst by a single shooter).  There were other shootings involving mobs, riots, massacres by militias or the military that had higher death tolls in the 1800s and early 1900s.  You can read about some of those here: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/21734

And the native Americans,

even more. And in foreign countries? Countless numbers, usually by aerial bombs but also by shooting.

On causes, I respect MLK's analysis

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

slimeball politicians and media

the blood isn't dry and as usual barry and the other far leftists blame an object and not a person or a mindset, disgusting

The gunman pledged allegiance to ISIS

Reminds me of Obama. NYTimes interview, Aug 8, 2014: ...The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.” That only would have encouraged, he said, Maliki and other Shiites to think: " ‘We don’t actually have to make compromises. We don’t have to make any decisions. We don’t have to go through the difficult process of figuring out what we’ve done wrong in the past. All we have to do is let the Americans bail us out again. And we can go about business as usual.’ ” -- here