Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

President Barack Obama pauses while making statement in the Press Briefing Room on the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., June 12, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder — a horrific massacre — of dozens of innocent people. We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it is still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in our grief, our outrage and our resolve to defend our people.

“I just finished a meeting with FBI Director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisors. The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation, in partnership with local law enforcement. I’ve directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.

“We’re still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. And I have directed that we must spare no effort to determine what — if any — inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups. What’s clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days, we will uncover why and how this happened, and we’ll go wherever the facts lead us.

“This morning I spoke with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and conveyed the condolences of the entire American people. This could have been any one of our communities. So I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help that he and the people of Orlando need – they’re going to get it. As a country, we are going to be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and all the days to come.

“We also express our profound gratitude to all the police and first responders who rushed into harm’s way. Their courage and professionalism saved lives, and kept the carnage from being worse. It’s the kind of sacrifice that our law enforcement professionals make every day for us all. We can never thank them enough.

“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and sing-to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it’s a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have long come together to raise awareness, speak their mind and advocate for their civil rights. So 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 on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

“Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore 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 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. And to actively do nothing — that’s a decision, too.

“In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy. Their names. Their faces. The joy they brought to families and friends. The difference they made in this world. Say a prayer for them and their families — that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable. That He give all of us the strength to be there for them, and the courage to change. We need to demonstrate that we are defined more – as a country — by the way they lived their lives, than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

“As we go forward together, we’ll draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts — friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives. In the face of hate and violence, we will love another. We will not give in to fear or turn on each other. Instead, we will stand together, united, as Americans, to protect our people, defend our nation and take action against those who threaten us.

“May God bless the Americans we lost this morning. May He comfort their families. And may God continue to watch over this country we love.”


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