“It is still early in the investigation but we know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate,” President Barack Obama said on Sunday following the mass shooting that occurred in Orlando, Fla.
“Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history,” he said, also confirming that the FBI is investigating the tragedy as an act of terrorism.
“Attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us,” he said, acknowledging that it “is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
Still, the President acknowledged there is not yet “a definitive judgement of the precise motivations of killer… What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred.”
He also said he sent his condolences to Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer on behalf of the American people. “This could have been any one of our communities,” said the President.
After he issued the statement, the White House lowered its American flag to half staff in recognition of the tragedy.
Fifty people were killed and another 53 injured Saturday night when a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub called Pulse that serves a mostly gay clientele.
Local authorities and the FBI are investigating the incident — the worst mass shooting in U.S. history — as a possible act of domestic terror.
Police shot and killed the gunman, Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters Sunday morning. He has been identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S.-born citizen of Afghani descent living in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The President was briefed this morning by his Homeland Security liaison Lisa Monaco. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” press secretary Josh Earnest shared in a statement.
His speech ran behind schedule as he continued to receive updates from the FBI and other federal officials working with the Orlando Police.
The President will have the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community, according to the White House.
Vice President Joe Biden is also closely monitoring the situation, relaying through his press office that the shooting was a “heinous attack” and offered his prayers and condolences to those killed, injured and to all the families and loved ones of the victims.
– The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 12, 2016