Terrorist attack in Orlando kills 50, injures 53

June 12, 2016 • 9:28 am

According to the New York Times and CNN, an assailant attacked an Orlando nightclub with an assault rifle and a handgun, killing about 20  50 people (updated) and injuring 42 53. The attack occurred at about 2 a.m. The assailant, who was killed in a battle with police, may also have also had explosives taped to his body.

The new death toll of 50, which may rise, makes this by far the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

My CNN news feed identifies the suspect as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, and The Jerusalem Post notes that, according to the FBI, Mateen may have had connections or leanings to ISIS.

While it’s possible this isn’t a terrorist attack, the likelihood is that it is. It may also be relevant that it was a gay nightclub.

This is a mirror of the terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv last week. There is no justification possible for either attack, though Hamas claimed credit for the latter and many Palestinians celebrated the four Israeli civilians who were killed, passing out sweets and issuing celebratory tweets. Any celebrations in the Islamic world will be more muted this time, as the organization involved was more likely to be ISIS rather than Hamas, and the targets were not Israelis but Americans.

But it’s never justified to kill innocent civilians, and I mourn for those, both Americans and Israelis, who lost their lives, as well as for the friends and relatives who remain. Our next President will have a hard row to hoe, for these attacks are not going away. We have the problem of gun control and we have the problem of terrorist Islamism. Neither has a clear solution, especially given the administration’s refusal to recognize religious motivations and Americans’ love of their weapons.

111 thoughts on “Terrorist attack in Orlando kills 50, injures 53

    1. Hear, hear, Miss Iron fist. 50 dead on my twitter feed. If true that would make it the worst terror attack since 9/11 in terms of fatalities, if I’m not mistaken.

    2. +1
      assailant from another state had semi automatic rifle and two hand guns, survived shootout with a police officer posted to the club, then took numerous hostages and wounded or killed nearly all the 100 Without the police crack assault at the end would have killed all. Would be harder in a country with harder gun access and not the big difference in such laws between states. Also if everyone had concealed hand guns surely easier for terrorists also – they are after all, prepared to die for their charming “cause”

      1. “Without the police crack assault at the end would have killed all.”

        Am reminded of those who gripe that police have become more (para)military over the last couple of decades, what with body armor, assault vehicles. Seem to come in handy at times like this.

        1. That’s what SWAT teams are for and that’s what took down the assailant. Not all police need to be armed like SWAT or military. We already have SWAT and military.

          1. “Not all police need to be armed like SWAT or military.”


            Just congenially curious – is to wear body armor to be “armed”? Is it alright in your view for police to wear body armor and bear shields (in the ballpark of what a SWAT team has, eh?), so as to facilitate minimizing injury and maintaining their self-discipline and not to be provoked to retaliate when dealing with advancing, aggressive, cussing, kicking, spitting – perhaps rock/brick-and-bottle-throwing – noble humans, at least a few of whom having rioting and looting and burning on the brain?

            No doubt police and certain members of the public disagree on what situations warrant body armor (and whatever other augmenting measures/equipment.) Have I correctly read/heard that some members of such unruly crowds have claimed to be “provoked” (“offended”?) into aggression/violence by the mere sight of police wearing such protective gear?

          2. Here is what I don’t like about the arming of police:

            Driving tanks and tank like vehicles down streets for no reason
            Pointing military automatic assault rifles at people on the street for no reason (the military never do this unless they see the person as a threat and mean to shoot).

            As for body armour, I see no reason not to wear it but don’t see it as necessary all the time. One case in point is wearing it on campus at my university. All it does is make the officer hot and grumpy. There is virtually no fear of attacks and those beats can be put on if needed. It makes everyone think we are living in more dangerous times than we are.

            I also think police forces should be trained in something like Krav Maga instead of relying on their guns to disarm people with sticks and knives.

        2. No one is griping about police special forces being used for special occasions.
          That is not the gripe, obviously.

      2. And, where were the concealed hand guns carried by the nightclub attendees available and ready for use on the assailants?
        Isn’t that what concealed weapons permits are supposed to be all about? Self defense? Then they wouldn’t have had to wait for the “paramilitaristic” police to come save them.

        I’m being tongue in cheek here when I shouldn’t be about such a serious topic. I am not for the proliferation of weaponry. And, even if the people in the nightclub had concealed weapons, they probably wouldn’t have been readily available to them. And, pistols against automatic weapons are a loser. Much as I hate it, it seems as though more security checks are needed at public venues. No one should be able to sneak in automatic weapons, pistols or bombs.

  1. I don’t like the way they are saying ‘Muslims hate the gays’ when the Christian right have been spouting similar hate

    1. There is a difference between refusing to bake a wedding cake and killing 50+ people in a gaybar. It’s not fair to Christians to say that the hate is similar.

      1. I dunno. There have been killings of abortion doctors and bombing of abortion clinics by Christians. When I first heard of this incident, I actually thought it was a Christian killing because of the strife the Evangelical right have been feeling over the whole gay marriage phenomenon and the bathroom situation in Target.

          1. Mine too. Exactly how the monotheist nutjob in question spells the name of his (is it ever a “her”?) invisible sky fairy seems of little importance.

          1. How so? I’m talking about hate here not the proliferation of said hate world-wide. Family of dead people killed by exploding clinics really would see no difference. Their relatives are dead because someone thought something written in a piece of scripture made doing this act a righteous one.

          2. The overall level of hate would not be the same.

            The actual action of abortion killings are not organised by any christian organisation.

            Abortion is seen as murder by some, so again the motivation is different.

            And the few abortion killings do not equate to the endless thousands of Islamic inspired attacks.

          3. Again I’m not arguing any of that. But hate is hate and hate justified by your God is hate justified by your God and dead is dead when you’re the victim of such things.

        1. Diane, how many abortion doctors have been killed by Christian terrorists in the last fifty years?

          How many people have been killed by avowed “Evangelical right” terrorists in general?

          Muslims terrorists have killed roughly 3,100 in the same period. Muslims are <1% of the populace.

          Please do a population-weighted analysis of each type of terror.

          1. You seem to misunderstand my argument. I’m not arguing that the broken with political Islamism is the same as evangelical Christians. I am arguing the impetus is the same as is the bigotry.

      2. @EvolvedDutchie: Really?

        “Here’s what the Bible says, Leviticus 20:13, ‘If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.’ And that, my friend, is the cure for AIDS. It was right there in the Bible all along.”

          1. You’re just arguing that the commitment to violence is not the same. It is entirely different to say that the level of hate is significantly different. After all, the greatest all-powerful being in the universe commands that they hate.

            Cake baking intolerance is on the “nicer” side of Christian bigotry. There are plenty of bombed-out abortion clinics and murdered doctors that illustrate the more violent side of the spectrum. The hate is very much similar, to my mind.

          2. Given it was a gay bar – a pet hate of extremist fundamentalists – I originally thought it was by a Christian extremist. But there is a bit of a difference even between this and the bombed abortion clinic cases – those target doctors or a few people and the attack doesn’t involve suicide vests or becoming a “martyr” afterwards. The Islamists extremists always plan to kill as many people as possible by using multiple menthods (firearms and booby traps; firearms and explosive vest; all three) and are always willing or actively plan to die in the process.

          3. Huh? Polls would prove what, how? They would demonstrate that bombings of abortion clinics aren’t done by Christian fanatics? They would show that anti-gay legislation isn’t pushed by fanatic Christian politicians? What in the world do you mean?

          4. That is a temporary situation, which the underperforming side will feel strong pressure to correct. Because their invisible sky fairy demands blood.

      3. In this case, I think it is fair. Cruz and Huckabee both appeared on the same stage, in the same church to accept endorsements from a preacher who called for the execution of gays.

        1. I just had a mental image of them being pelted with bullets (blanks, perhaps) painted in the “Rainbow” colours from the audience.

    2. I probably would have made a similar argument, once upon a time, but I have since learned that the ‘whataboutery’ argument is not the way to go since it is a kind of logical fallacy.
      Yes, for every terrible thing like a massacre there is also another massacre to compare it to, or an even worse thing like genocide. But the point is that each of these things stands alone for condemnation.

    3. The Christian right has been criticized for their ugly speech too. In fact, I’d suggest the Christian right has been called out far more often than Islam for it’s treatment of homosexuals. I’ve been aware of criticism against such hate speech in North America since I was a teenager, since the seventies.

      In Christian/secular countries there are open discussions on (and against) homosexuality laws and so called sacred texts. In some Islamic countries simply speaking out against anti homosexual laws can get you branded a heretic and get you murdered.

    4. Seems a false equivalence to me. I have no truck with any religion, but the threat from christian fanatics nowhere matches the threat from muslim fanatics in the modern world.

      1. See my comment up-thread about the evolutionary pressure that is developing on the underperforming groups of bigots.

        1. I disagree. My opinion and impression is that the the overperforming group of bigots is emboldened by the success of their terror elite, and the constant denial and self-indoctrination of the victims’ populations that these atrocities have nothing to do with Islamic bigotry and that nothing should be done to control the spread of this bigotry, that is, of Islam itself.

      2. There seems to be a lot of killing done by Christian militias in Africa these days. And Christianity-based reparative therapy practiced in the US seems an awful lot like torture. But yes, it’s difficult to say which religion is more threatening.

  2. I too mourn for all those killed and injured in the most recent attacks and for all the others killed and injured in all the many attacks where-ever, whenever by whichever group perpetrated them.
    Hatred seems to be a self perpetuating sickness, and haters do frequently love to kill those they hate. If there’s a solution to hatred I don’t know what it is.

  3. “I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do, because I notice that it always coincides with their own desires.”

    Susan B. Anthony

  4. And this, only a few days after Rabbi Lerner’s pacific oration and message of goodwill at Ali’s funeral. May I extend every sympathy to the relatives and friends of the deceased; best wishes to the injured and hope to every right thinking American.

  5. Trying hard not to be flippant here, but I wonder what the right-wingers are going to make of this – a Muslim gunman shooting up gays. Who are they going to hate on more? Who will they sympathize with when both the perpetrator and the victims are objects of hate?

    1. Well, this will clearly be used by some of them to call for more concealed carry and open carry permits.
      Ignoring the fact that then every bar fight will devolve into a shootout.

      1. every bar fight will devolve into a shootout.

        Well, of course they will.
        All good bars will install what my Rhodesian friend used to call a “kaffir-cutter.” Very effective, but takes an awful long time to reload.

  6. There will always be haters, warped by religion or something else. What is tragic is that a lone hater armed with an assault weapon can kill so many so fast.

      1. Absolutely. The NRA makes a point of telling their members and the public that they need guns to protect themselves against Mexican drug lords and American gangs.
        They neglect to mention the part the NRA played in getting laws passed that make it very hard for law enforcement to stop the smuggling of firearms to those drug lords and gangs.


        “The bureau’s struggles are epitomized by its lack of a full-time director since Congress, prodded by the N.R.A., decided that the position should require Senate confirmation. That leadership vacuum, Mr. Bealefeld and others said, has inevitably depleted morale and kept the agency from developing a coherent agenda.”

        The ATF still doesn’t have a permanent director after over 6 years.

        “The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, for example, prohibits A.T.F. agents from making more than one unannounced inspection per year of licensed gun dealers. The law also reduced the falsification of records by dealers to a misdemeanor and put in place vague language defining what it meant to “engage in business” without a dealer’s license.”


        “For decades, the National Rifle Association has lobbied successfully to block all attempts to computerize records of gun sales, arguing against any kind of national registry of firearms ownership. And despite the growth of the gun industry and the nation’s population, ATF has fewer agents today than it did nearly four decades ago: fewer than 2,500.”

        The number of firearms in the USA now surpass the number of people.


        “The National Rifle Association (NRA) claims that it supports vigorous enforcement of our nation’s gun laws and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Yet the NRA has actually worked to put guns back into criminals’ hands. Following is the saga of the federal “relief from disability” program. The NRA has worked to expand and protect this guns-for-felons program that has rearmed thousands of convicted—and often violent—felons.”

  7. Guns are clearly addictive to some personalities in the same sense that alcohol and tobacco are. Bill Maher is right to say they should be considered a vice.

    1. The US Government has at least once (possibly more often) prohibited the CDC fomr considering guns as a cause of death – and therefore how to avoid or prevent those deaths. Addictiveness or not would likely also be banned.

  8. I was surprised with the delay in going in, as they say. Over three hours before going inside to kill the killer. Most of the things they have been learning about these instances in the schools or other public places is go and not wait if possible.

    1. I am not sure about that either, except that it became a hostage situation and in that circumstance the model is to try to buy time. I know that the police managed to meanwhile get a lot of people out by forcing open another door with a vehicle, and that took time.

      1. there must have been a lot more than the 100 people in the club before the attack that was originally reported

        1. If the place wasn’t full to very close to it’s fire-control limits, then it’s manager was running close to being sacked. A bar that isn’t full to capacity is a failure.

  9. I think it is completely inappropriate to immediately start talking about religion when very little is known. Yes, it may be true that this was religiously motivated, yes, it may be true that this was inspired by radical movements, but for now, all we know is that a young man walked into a club carrying a handgun and an assault-style weapon and killed 50 people that were simply out having fun. Lets wait until we know more before bringing religion into this. By the way, no, I am not religious and don’t intend to make excuses for religions.

    1. Read the roolz; you don’t tell the host that his writing is completely inappropriate. I used to always reserve judgment when there was a shooting like this, but given the guy’s name, the intimations that he had involvement with Islamism, and the suggestion that he had an explosive device (and the club was gay), I think Islamic terrorism is a good bet. And that is my guess.

      1. I apologize for my inappropriate comment and for possibly offending you. I was trying to be respectful to all. I hadn’t read the rules, but you are right, your blog, your rules

    2. Apparently so

      NBC interviews father of shooter: this has nothing to do with religion; son angered by seeing two men kissing in Miami recently

      So that’s a perfectly reasonable reaction

      1. Certainly the father is a less than reliable source. There’s also the fact that the perp pledged allegiance to ISIS by phone to the police during the shooting.

        1. I am guilty of yet another failed attempt at irony/sarcasm. It was the fact that such a mendacious item was thought worth reporting

          1. Doh! No, I’m guilty of skimming over your last sentence too and not noticing it! (The sarcasm.)

  10. It’s impressive that a spokesman for gays refrained from making the quick assumption of a hate crime against his people, as we often see from other groups:

    Terry DeCarlo, head of the GLBT Center Of Central Florida, (said) “We can’t confirm — and I’ve talked extensively with the police department — that it was a direct hate crime against the LGBT community, it could have just been a person looking for a packed nightclub to go in and start shooting. We can’t confirm that yet,”

    In fact, he didn’t even speak of probabilities.

  11. I was reading the BBC article on the shootings and came across the statistic that there were 372 mass shootings in the US last year. More than one every day. That is truly frightening.

    And that, presumably, represents just a small proportion of all deaths by guns.

    1. I believe the definition used is that a mass shooting is 4 or more deaths by gunshot in one set of events. Three deaths and 97 woundings wouldn’t be described as a mass shooting.
      Considering that most US gun deaths are suicides, then no, mass shootings represent one tail of the distribution.

    1. “I fear our government’s inevitable overreaction…”

      I think in the long term I’m more fearful of an underreaction that would play right into the hands of Trump. If Clinton is elected she can scale back any overreaction. If Trump is elected because the reaction seems weak, we’d be far worse off.

      1. I agree. It’s scary to imagine Trump’s reaction if he was in the White House. His idea about getting all Muslims to register would be back, and that would be the least we could expect.

          1. Yes, we should. The logic of those who choose not to mention it escapes me.

    1. So … since Disney arrived, people aren’t allowed to grow up in Orlando any more?

  12. Trump has tweeted out that he “[a]ppreciate[s] the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”.

    Trump and his tweets show up at every terrorism-related incident gloating like don Barzini at the funeral of Vito Corleone.

    The man is beyond all sense of shame.

    1. FFS! An “I told you so” tweet?

      Besides, predicting a mass murder in the US is not exactly prescience.

  13. This Israeli is willing to look at the reason why Palestinians attack Israelis, and no, it is nothing to do with Orlando killings. You should learn from him:

    Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai shocked many Israelis Thursday morning when he cited Israel’s occupation as one factor that leads Palestinians to turn to terrorism. Speaking on Army Radio about Wednesday’s deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv and reported celebrations of it in the West Bank and Gaza, Huldai argued that Israelis should focus instead on the fact that Israel is “perhaps the only country in the world holding another nation under occupation without civil rights.”

    “On the one hand the occupation has lasted 49 years, and I took part in it,” Huldai told veteran journalist Ilana Dayan, “I recognize the reality and know that leaders with courage must look to take action and not just talk. The fact that we are suffering does not lead to a change in understanding of what must be done… There is no courage to do what needs to be done in order to reach a [peace] agreement.”

    “There is no way to hold people in a situation of occupation and think that they will reach the conclusion that every thing is okay and they will continue to live like that,” Huldai added.


    1. Sorry, boychik, but there are plenty of countries that have held others under occupation in which the occupied didn’t have a strategy to kill civilians as a general response. India, to name one.

      I won’t have people on here justifying the murder of civilians. Is that what you’re doing? Sounds a lot like it.

  14. The following chart of gun deaths comes from “Gun Deaths Archive” on the internet:


    Total Number of Incidents 23,164
    Number of Deaths1 5,932
    Number of Injuries1 12,150
    Number of Children (age 0-11)
    Killed/Injured1 254
    Number of Teens (age 12-17)
    Killed/Injured1 1,265
    Mass Shooting2 134
    Officer Involved Incident
    Officer Shot/Killed2 145
    Officer Involved Incident
    Perpetrator Shot/Killed2 367
    Home Invasion2 973
    Defensive Use2 711
    Accidental Shooting2 1,043

    Gun violence and crime incidents are collected/validated from 1,500 sources daily – incidents and their source data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website.

    1: Actual number of deaths and injuries
    2: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified

    Numbers on this table reflect a subset of all information collected and will not add to 100% of incidents.

    http://www.gunviolencearchive.org http://www.facebook.com/gunviolencearchive

    Data Validated: June 12, 2016
    Gun Violence Archive

    Mass shootings account for 2% or less of the shootings, but get the most news. I didn’t realize it, but we haven’t had a head of ATF
    (hope I got that right. No time to look it up.) for six years due to it being thought that the Senate should deal with this issue. And they are too wimpy tostand against the high-powered gun lobby.

  15. The new death toll of 50, which may rise, makes this by far the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    Don’t worry. I’m sure there will be a new record holder along before too long.

    Heather Hastie
    [.] predicting a mass murder in the US is not exactly prescience.

    I agree. And I think I made pretty much the same prediction at least once, of not twice previously here. Care to bet that I’m wrong?

  16. In other news, concerning weapons availability, I just heard a news item that the Scottish police are 3 weeks into an amnesty for people to hand in unlicensed air-powered weapons. 6000 (figures incomplete, about 1/700 of the population) have been handed in in the last week.
    When the amnesty is over (next week or two, I forget), then possession of an unlicensed air-powered weapon will be a criminal offence. Use of such will be an additional set of offences. I’m not sure if you’d be required to produce your license in order to get ammunition.

    1. I’m just wondering what would happen in the American legal system if, for an example, the Lancet (highly respected medical journal – equally respected with JAMA, for example) were to publish a paper describing the desire to own a gun as a diagnostic symptom for Thinkofa Syndrome, a dangerous mental illness.
      Would that be sufficient grounds for CDC to start investigating this symptom of a dangerous disorder, and to issue regulations concerning it diagnosis and treatment.
      What brought this to mind was a tweet (allegedly – I haven’t checked) from Bernie Saunders about “We have got to do everything that we can […] to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of […] people who are mentally ill.” Which begs the definition of “mental illness.”
      Anyone want to bet on Congress taking over from the psychologists in the definition of mental illness?

      1. The Lancet was an unfortunate example. It has published bogus articles with disastrous consequences before. The most striking example was (now retracted) Wakefield’s article that the MMR vaccine causes autism.

        1. And Nature has published bogus articles (I’m thinking of a German materials science guy who had about a half-dozen papers retracted in one go). I’m sure JAMA has too. The occasional error doesn’t make it any the less one of the most respected medical journals in the world.

    2. Many American police departments sponsor turn-in-your-guns amnesty programs every so often. The haul is often considerable.

      1. Yeah. We did a knife amnesty a couple of years ago – and turned up some ridiculously impractical devices (metre-long machetes with cm-deep saw-teeth for one example), as well as several literal antiques like WW1 bayonets which were worth a few bob.
        The point of course about the air-weapon amnesty is that in future you’ll need to get a license before you can buy one. So the population of the weapons should steadily go down.

        1. Great plan!

          Yeah, every so often an amnesty will turn up something ridiculous, like a live WW II grenade or something.

          1. Oh yeah – we got evacuated from school one day when I was about 14 because someone moving into a house across the road had found some hand grenades and Molotov Cocktails (the white phosphorus ones) in the shed of the “new” (to him) house.
            Turned out to be a “scallywag’s” stash, according to the local newspaper – nothing terribly unusual.

            During WW2, in addition to the so-called “Dad’s Army” of the Home Guard, there were also a number (thousands, 10s of thousands?) of “scallywags” recruited to be the nucleus of a “behind German Lines” resistance force. Usually people the Government didn’t trust politically – Communists, typically – but who would also be first up against the wall if the Gestapo got them, so could be relied upon to fight viciously and to the death. Mayhem, logistics disruption, murder collaborators, that sort of thing. Standard issue guerilla war tactics, as the War Department had learned from the Boers and the IRA, and were teaching the French, the Yugoslavs (a guy called Tito, remember him?), the Vietnamese (they learned really well!) and the Burmese …

          2. Interesting, thanks for the mini lesson on the history of guerrilla warfare. We sure heard about it all the time during ‘Nam.

            We had our own scallywags during the Civil War, but of a different sort.

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