Gunshots started around 2:02 AM ET at Pulse, a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida and quickly turned into a hostage situation. By the time the shooter was pronounced dead at 5:53 AM ET and survivors were allowed to make their way out, around 50 people were killed and 53 were injured, making this the largest shooting in United States history.
The shooter was Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce Florida. In the midst of the shooting, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS. He was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, both of which were legally purchased.
As of 6:07 PM ET, names of the victims are just now being released. Facebook has launched its first safety check in for the United States.
Mateen was described by his ex-wife as “not a stable person,” and was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 for inflammatory comments to coworkers and then a possible connection to a suicide bomber in Syria respectively. In both cases, the FBI determined Mateen was not a threat. He wasn’t under investigation or surveillance at the time of the shooting.
To say that this massacre is a tragedy is an understatement, and one of the only ways to wrap our heads around what has happened. Music Unlabeled is normally a music publication specializing in reviews and features. Today, we’re taking a break from music to acknowledge the horrendous act of violence and terror that has happened today.
As people in the United States and all around the globe struggle to wrap their heads around this massacre, there are a few things that we have to keep in mind.
- Not every Muslim is connected to ISIS. The mosque that Mateen previously attended released a statement denouncing his actions and giving their condolences to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. A lot of the people that you hear speaking on the news, on twitter, everywhere are going to blur the lines between Islam and ISIS. They are not one in the same. You wouldn’t, and don’t, blame all humans for the act of one. So do not blame all Muslims for the act of one. There is enough hatred in the world. Do not feed it.
- The shooter is described as being mentally ill. Whether or not he was actually mentally ill, mental illness doesn’t equate to being capable of a mass murder. If he was suffering from a mental illness, it does not mean every mentally ill person is going to start shooting people. You don’t blame all humans for the act of one. So do not blame all people dealing with mental illness for the acts of one. There is enough hatred in the world. Don’t feed it.
- This was an attack against a specific group of people as well as Americans. It is no coincidence that this happened at one of the most popular LGBT nightclubs in Orlando. To ignore this is a disrespect to the victims and their families. Do not shame people who are sharing images of a rainbow colored American flag, do not add to the hurt that the LGBT community is already facing. Do not be any less affected by this tragedy because of who the victims were, because no matter their sexuality, they’re people too. Do everything you can to share love and support to a community who needs it desperately.
- Do not turn against each other. You can be supportive of Muslims, people suffering from mental illness, and LGBT people all at the same time. In times of grief and confusion, it’s easy to pin one major group as “the enemy,” especially when you’re a part of a group that was devastated by the tragedy or part of a group that’s being stigmatized. Do not turn against each other. Do not blame a group for the act of one. Instead, stand together and help each other.
And there are different ways that you can help Orlando. If you’re a counselor in the Orlando area you can help The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Central Florida answer phone calls on a hotline. If you’re in the area and can donate blood, please do so in the coming days. If you’re not in the area, you can donate to Equality Florida via a GoFundMe to support the victims.
If you are a member of the LGBTQ community in need of someone to call but are not based in Orlando, the GLBT National Help Center has different hotlines for you to call.
Music Unlabeled extends their most heartfelt condolences and prayers to everyone affected by this tragedy. We want to help spread love in a world full of violence, and hope our readers do the same.