Fifty people were killed in a shooting in an Orlando nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning. News sources are now reporting that the shooter, Omar Mateen, had pledged allegiance to ISIS, and it is thought he had connections to ISIS affiliates. U.S. officials are calling the deadly shooting an act of terrorism. Orlando police shot and killed Mateen during the shooting which included a hostage situation that lasted three hours.
The attack is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.’s history, according to CNN.com, and is the worst terror attack since 9/11.
Pulse is a gay nightclub founded by Barbara Poma whose brother was gay. Pulse has been a place of acceptance for those in the Orlando LGBT community.
On Pulse’s website, Poma issued this statement: “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
Christian leaders also responded to the tragedy, with many urging Christians not to hate their LGBT or Muslim neighbors.
The Rev. Franklin Graham responded to the shooting on his Facebook page:
“My prayers are with the many victims and family members who lost loved ones in the senseless shooting—now being called an act of terrorism—at a gay nightclub in Orlando early this morning. Life is precious, and we only have one chance to live our lives here on this earth.”