President Barack Obama called the mass shooting at an LGBT Orlando nightclub Sunday an “act of terror” in remarks to the nation from the White House briefing room.
“We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate,” he said. “The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terror. We will go wherever the facts lead us … What is clear is he was a person filled with hatred.”
At least 50 people were killed and 53 more wounded in the what is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Obama said while it could have been any one of our communities, “this is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
The President was briefed Sunday morning by several officials, including FBI Director James Comey and Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, according to the White House. He also ordered American flags to be lowered to half staff to honor the victims.
Vice President Joe Biden has also been briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Biden “offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims,” according to a statement from his spokesman.
The political world began to react to the shooting at the LBGT nightclub in the early Sunday morning hours.
The LGBT congressional caucus issued a statement saying they were “horrified by the tragic shooting.”
“Though details are still emerging, an attack during Pride Month against Pulse, an iconic gathering place for LGBT Floridians, has a particularly insidious impact on our entire community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” said Roddy Flynn, executive director of the LGBT Equality Caucus.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called it “horrific” and “unthinkable” and said it underscores the need for gun control measures.
“Oh, it’s horrific, it’s unthinkable. And just hopes go out to all those who were shot that they can recover,” the Democratic presidential contender said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“And I’ve got to tell you, 25 years ago, I believe that in this country, we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people,” Sanders said. “We have got to do everything that we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them, criminals, people who are mentally ill. So that struggles continues.”
Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, offered a tweet signed “-H” to indicate it was from her personally.
“Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act,” Clinton wrote.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, referred to the shooting as “possible terrorism.”
In a tweet Sunday morning, Trump said: “Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded.”